Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Old Gaming Group May Have Been Tempted Back Into the Fold...

This year's host for the Gathering of Fools was Tony, and he nearly floored me when he showed me that he had printed out two of my PDFs for Swords & Wizardry: Demi-Options: The Halfling and Minor Majiks & Miscellaneous Arcana Vol 1 as well as KnockSpell #6. We haven't had a session of tabletop roleplaying as a group since March of '97 yet the desire is still there.

We did come close today, as we ran the first two quests from Drinking Quest 1. Regretfully, we saved DQ to the end of the gathering, where we had all (except our designated driver Bri) had too much to drink. It was soda and water for everyone but the one player who NEVER lost an encounter (Dave). Actually, there was some cask strength scotch making the rounds, but only two dared to drink it - Dave and John. I wisely stuck to beer ;) Still, we got to use the results of the DQ session to decide the order of picking the RPG items I was giving out.

There is talk of getting together once a month via G+ Hangouts / Roll20, which would be a crap load of fun. Additionally, there is talk of me running a one-shot epic level session with pregens for a six or seven hour sitting. That should be interesting.

Did I mention I'm exhausted? heh

Time to Tempt the Old Group... With Games!

As my old group gets together to tell the stories of old times and old games, I'll be running some Drinking Quest, with a prize pool consisting of my gaming duplicates and such. I always bring stuff for the group to remind them of the old times and show them what is going on during the current times.

Biggest prize is probably a copy of Stars Without Numbers - somehow I wound up with two copies. Mongoose Traveller Pocket Edition (as the print is too damn small for my eyes), a copy of Gygax Issue #1, an orange cover UK edition of Tunnels & Trolls 5e (wound up with 3 copies thanks to Ebay) and some other random goodies to round out the pot. Others bring food, beer or chips - I bring the gaming ;)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Knowledge Illuminates Goes "Pay What You Want" (Swords & Wizardry Campaign Starter)

Add another OSR classic to the growing list of "Pay What You Want" product pricing. If you haven't checked out Tim's zine, The Manor, you can get a peek at some of his other work with Knowledge Illuminates at a price you decide.

It's worth your time to read as well as a few silvers on the plate.

From the blurb:

Grab your dice and hire some henchmen, you're going to need them.  Knowledge Illuminates is a campaign starter adventure full of possibilities.  Explore a dark fantasy world in search of an unending treasure.  But within this adventure lurks a horror that will haunt the players for years.  So buckle up that helmet, sharpen that sword, and bring an extra pair of iron spikes, this adventure is for the big boys.

Raphael Chandler's StaughterGrid Goes "Pay What You Want"

+Rafael Chandler just recently released SlaughterGrid on his unsuspecting public a few weeks ago - I know, I helped ru the contest.

It is now priced at "Pay What You Want".

The man is a legend. Grab a copy. Throw him a few shekels. You won't be sorry.

(Raphael has also put ViewScream price at PWYW)

Which Side of the "Pay What You Want" Fence Do You Stand On?

OneBookShelf / RPGNow recently added a "Pay What You Want" option for the pricing of PDFs at their store.

Basically, the buyer can pay nothing or something for the product. He may pay nothing initially and come back and pay more if he likes, or not.

The secret to the success of PWYW from the seller's point of view is "volume sales". If you sell 10x more PDFs than you were moving prior to PWYP and folks are on average paying 25% of your regular price, you've still increased your sales dollars by 150%.

It isn't a physical product, so volume CAN make up for the lower average selling price.

I can see how this pricing would not work for many publishers or even most products, but as a way to sample a publisher's wares (perhaps on an older product) I can see the usefulness of the pricing scheme.

I know there are some fairly large opinions on both sides of the fence (Tim over at Gothridge Manor has a similar post up) but I'd like to see some other well thought out opinions of the perceived "pros" and cons". I'm always up for a good rant and I suspect I'll be reading a few before the night is out, but hopefully there are some decent opinion pieces too ;)

For the "Long Term Players" Out There: Do You Still Get Together With Your First Gaming Group?

Tomorrow will mark the mostly annual Gathering of Fools. The core members of my earliest gaming group from my High School and College years and beyond (1982-97) will be gaming, eating, drinking, watching bad movies and generally doing stupid stuff.

Although we stopped gaming weekly back in March of 1997, we keep in contact daily through emails and get together every June starting in 2002, as we lost one of our members on 9-11. Paul's birthday was in the middle of June, so we gather in his memory. We used to get together once or twice a year before we lost Paul, but June became the time to mark the memory.

Which of you still game with your original gaming group all of these years later? Still keep in contact with them? Gather up the lads and lasses once or twice a year?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Minor Magiks & Miscellaneous Arcana Volume I is Now "Pay What You Want"

Yep, what the hell, might as well give it a try myself.

We're putting Minor Magiks & Miscellaneous Arcana Volume I at "Pay What You Want" pricing. If nothing else, you'll get some decent art and some ideas for use in your game. Even if you are just checking it out for free, it's more exciting than not getting it out there, at least for me ;)

The OSR List of "Pay What You Want" PDFs

I plan to keep this post updated with new items as they become "Pay What You Want". I'm fairly sure I'll be missing stuff if I rely on my lonesome. Feel free to email me updates at tenkarsDOTtavernATgmailDOTcom.

Now for the list:

Brave the Labyrinth Issue #1 - LL 'zine

Knowledge Illuminates - a S&W Campaign Starter

Teratic Tome - and amazing monster book for the OSR

SlaughterGrid - the latest from +Rafael Chandler

The Grinding Gear - a barely survivable Tomb of Horrors

Death Frost Doom - Raggi likes three word titles, don't he? ;)

People of Pembrooktonshire - three words again...

No Dignity in Death: The Three Brides - well, there is a "three" in the
title ;)

Minor Magiks & Miscellaneous Arcana Volume I - hey, is that my name in the credits? ;)

Dungeon Crawl #2 an old school fanzine

Chronicles of Mhoriedh Map 00 Olden Lands Continent - maps for James Mishler's campaign world

AL1: Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror - an excellent DCC RPG adventure by +Daniel Bishop

Dyson's Dodecahedron -  series of 6 issues of a very useful OSR zine by the master mapper himself.

Fate Core and Accelerated Go "Pay What You Want" at RPGNow. Will Others Follow?

Fate Core and the Fate Accelerated Edition have gone "Pay What You Want" on RPGNow. You can grab them for free or pay what you think they are worth.

Theoretically, you could probably grab them for free, read them, then decide to pay what you think they are worth.

So, is this the start of a new trend for RPG PDF pricing?

It's a good idea for products that have been historically free, as you can now "tip the creator".

I personally don't see a downside to it. Any other thoughts on it?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

13th Age - I'm Trying to Remember Why / When I Preordered It...

Apparently 13th Age is off to the printers and set for a (maybe) Gen Con release. I preordered this, but I don't recall when or even why. I do remember placing the preorder, so I haven't totally lost my mind.

I seem to recall it was something along the lines of:

"Something old, something new,
Something borrowed and something blue"

Or is that for weddings?

Hopefully there will be something salvageable for me in the rules for use in the OSR but I doubt it.

Lookie! I just searched for my order. It was last August. I think that was around the time I ordered RQ6. I really should unload that book - there is nothing there that Mongoose Legend doesn't do without the complications, page bloat and excessive cost.

In any case, if 13th Age was a Kickstarter, the cost for a printed copy and PDF wouldn't have been excessive at all. I guess that is a saving grace of sorts.

Do You Remember Your First Player Character?

Remember that first RPG session? The magic, the confusion, that first player character?

Mine was Cyrus. This was back in 1980 or so. I hope he wan't named after Cyrus Vance, the VP, but I really don't know at this point.

Cyrus was a 1st level fighter that killed some skeletons and other beasties in a solo adventure in which my DM and best friend Kenny only owned the DMG. We had to call one of his school mates to see if I hit second level.

I don't remember Cyrus's initial stats, as he fell victim to the "stat inflation" that was common during my early teen years, but I'm sure they were nothing special ;)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Tenkar's Tavern Overdue Kickstarter List - The Worst of the Worst

My love affair with Kickstarter is coming to an end. There seems to be a lot more screwing and a lot less satisfaction than I expected.

Lets look at the projects that had such promise and left me hanging...

Myth & Magic Player's Guide
Goal: $5,000     Total: $24,076     Funded: May 7, 2012
Estimated Ship Date: August 2012     Actual Ship Date: Not Yet Shipped

What can I say that hasn't already been said? Last backers only update on April 17 was brutally honest. At this point, I expect no product. Here's a snippet:

Well, and here comes some brutal truth: The cost of the Player's Handbook Kickstarter was astronomical. Every decision that I made that I thought was a minor decision (like glossy paper in the PG) turned out to be an awfully expensive one. My inexperience and excitement over the success of the campaign collided to turn me into a donkey business man. So, we have officially approached the point where I'm either dipping into GMG funds or self-funding the shipping, printing of the Starter Guides, etc. It's not your problem, and I don't want to make it your problem, but it's the harsh reality of where we are and why things will take so long. 
Awful Note: Things have clearly deteriorated. Myth & Magic is likely doomed now because of my mismanagement of the campaigns and the fact that with my new job, I lost a significant amount of time that I used to happily spend on the game. Goodwill may or may not be salvageable. 
What can I do? I'm not sure. I plan, regardless of public hate, to finish the Kickstarter campaigns and deliver the product. Hopefully, somewhere along the line, things will go from negative to neutral. They may never be positive, but heck, I'll take neutral.
Quantum Roleplaying Game
Goal: $13,000     Total: $47,747     Funded: December 30, 2011
Estimated Ship Date: April, 2012     Actual Ship Date: Not Yet Shipped

14 months late and still no closer to shipping . As per the May 27th update, this is how things stand. Snazzy but depressing.

Far West
Goal: $5,000     Total: $49,324     Funded: August 25, 2011
Estimated Ship Date: December, 2011     Actual Ship Date: Not Shipped (and has missed interim ship dates)

Cubicle 7 is now taking over distribution. Which means it will probably release, but I can't get angry at C7 for being late as usual as Gareth hasn't completed the project to turn it over to them. 18 months late and going strong. Huzzah!

Nystul's Infinite Dungeon
Goal: $2,000     Total: $16,017     Funded: June 3, 2012
Estimated Ship Date: September 2012      ?

Read here for the horror story

Axes & Anvils
Goal: $1,000     Total: $35,000     Funded: August 11, 2012
Estimated Release Date: November, 2012     ? 

Read here for the horror story

Long story short - I am NEVER going to spend my money on ANYTHING associated with Mike Nystul EVER again. Holy shit. The spell Nystul's Magic Aura is aptly named, as all it does it give the impression of magical value to utter shit. Mike did pull off some magic this time around, and these projects MAY actually release at some time, but that is no thanks to him. Money for the projects was spent on a Con failure and building a non existant business. What did he do when he ran out of money? Another crowdfunding attempt. He's like the pyramid scheme of Kickstarter.

Appendix N
Goal: $1,000     Total: $18,893     Funded: July2, 2012
Estimated Ship Date: July, 2012     Actual Ship Date: Not Yet Shipped (New Estimate Late September November December ? 2012  March April Pick a card, any card...)

I hate putting Brave Halfling on the list, as I know it's been a shit year for him on a personal level and he and his family are in my prayers, but this was beyond late even before all that. Next month will mark a year late for any shipped products. Not so sure if I expect them at this point and I'm strangely okay with that.

I Have Not Updated My Overdue Kickstarter List Since March 26th? WTF!

Yeah, apparently I'm slacking.

The good news / bad news is that the projects that were slacking over two months ago are still slacking.

I'll be working on updating the list tonight

Dyson's Delves (Hand Drawn Maps) Now Available in PDF!

I have the softcover version of Dyson's Delves and it rocks hard. There is so much I want to do with the included maps, but I can't bring myself to write in the book. Additionally, I want to use the maps in Roll20, and scanning them just isn'r feasible for me.

These problems are now in the past, as Dyson's Delves in now available in PDF.

I can't print out the maps I want to use, write all over them and then upload the original maps to Roll20.

Yep, I'm happy as a pig in shit :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

What Kind of GM Are You? A Planner or an Improvisor?

As I read through Odyssey (The Complete GM's Guide to Campaign Management) I'm being reminded that there are two basic types of GMs:

Those that "plan and prepare" are on one side of the graph.

Those that "improvise and pray" are on the other side of the graph.

Me, I'm pretty well situated on the "improvise and pray" end of the spectrum. It's not that I don't prepare, but my plans towards preparing greatly outweigh any actual preparation that gets done. With my group, that is probably a good thing, as they couldn't follow a straight line or a plot path without some major whacking with a 10' pole.

Odyssey covers both extremes of GMing style (I named the styles here, not the book, but I feel they are accurate depictions, at least in my eyes). Even the "improvise and pray" side of the spectrum does require some prep, but it's generally much looser in nature.

So, while I'm enjoying the sections that are aimed at the "plan and prepare" type of GM, I also know that despite my best intentions, I'll carry over very little from these sections. It's just my nature. As for the "improvise and pray style" - there's some gold within. Thankfully both types of sections are readily identifiable.

Where do you stand on the GM graph? "Plan and Prepare"? "Improvise and Pray"? In the middle? "P&P with some Improvisational Tendencies"?

Modern Adventures (Beta) - I Want This JUST For the Cover!

I simply love this cover! It's an awesome homage to B/X D&D, even if the insides are for the Pathfinder game.

Heck, for 99 cents I may get Modern Adventures just for the cover ;)

From the Blurb:

Modern Adventures is an supplement to the Pathfinder Roleplaying game published by Paizo, designed to expand Pathfinder for modern settings. Not just a rehash of d20 Modern,* Modern Adventures is a new take on fantasy gaming in a 21st century setting. Inside, you'll find:

Updates to the existing Pathfinder core and NPC classes, bringing them into the 21st century.
6 brand new classes with 20 new archetypes.


Masters of the social arts, charmers are masters of flattery and persuasion, using their innate appeal to deceive, manipulate, and bend others to their will.

Archetypes: Animal Whisperer, Gambler, Romancer, Undercover Spy


Consummate performers, entertainers are happiest in front of an audience. They create and control the raw emotions of everyone around them. As they advance in levels they also gain status and influince.

Archetypes: Stand-up Comic, Pro Athlete, Stuntman


Techies. Gearheads. Geeks. Rocket Scientists. Whatever you call them, gadgeteers are technological virtuosos, able to create short-lived gizmos - technology so advanced it makes "cutting-edge" look like a blunt rock.

Archetypes: Hacker, Racer, Saboteur


Investigators are tireless seekers of truth and insatiable puzzle-solvers, never content unless they're working a case. Using flashes of intuition as well as the scientific re-creation of crime scenes, no clue is beyond their reach.

Archetypes: Bounty Hunters, Gentleman Detective, Muckraker, Superfan


Part bookworm, part mad scientist, the scholar's primary advantage is their raw intellect which they can shape into various talents and tricks. They can also create concoctions that can have either beneficial or detrimental effects.

Archetypes: Engineer, Psychologist


Every culture produces individuals who ultimately live apart from it, strangers within their own lands. Whether driven away from society or choosing to live apart from their fellow man, strangers face scorn and derision wherever they go. Still, living outside the system lets them accomplish things that most 9-5ers can only dream about.

Archetypes: Drunken Bum, Parolee, Street Preacher, Traditional Tribal Warrior

New Skills
New Feats
Modern weapons, equipment, and vehicles.
2 campaign universes and sample adventures:

Fifth Realm

The nine worlds of Norse mythology are real... and on a collision course with Midgard, the fifth realm. Participate in the return of magic to the modern world. Explore 8 new dimensional planes and, most importantly, defend earth from magically adept alien invaders.

Silicon Gothic

A hard sci-fi universe completely devoid of magic, the near-future world of Silicon Gothic follows the dystopian footsteps of Bladerunner, Brazil, Escape From New York, Max Headroom, Metropolis, and Robocop. Corrupt and greedy corporations oppress their workers and bully the powerless government. You must learn to work the system or be crushed by it.

* OK, a good deal of the equipment list is carried over from d20 Modern. You've got me. Did you really expect us to re-research everyday items that everybody already knows?

There Will Be Drinking Quest This Weekend!

The mostly annual Gathering of Fools will be taking place this Saturday afternoon. My old gaming group - we started in high school, moved on to college, reset to MMORPGs when work and family commitments prevented us from getting together in person regularly - will be getting together this weekend.

Grown 40+ year old men eating, drinking, watching bad movies and this time around - playing some Drinking Quest!

Hell, I'm not even the designated driver (I've been so on many of the previous gatherings) so I'll be able to chug with the best of them.

Now when does the Indiegogo of Drinking Quest 2 ship again?

A Kickstarter That's Gone to the Dogs - "Dogs Playing D&D"

You know the iconic paintings of dogs playing poker? The ones that you cringe when you see for the uhm-teenth time?

Would you feel differently if the dogs were playing D&D?

I don't, but if you do, you can get it in electronic or printed format, and for the stretch goals you can even vote on different editions of D&D besides the default 3e.

Hey, you knew it was going to happen at some point, right?

What Replaces "Magic" in SciFi Campaigns?

"Technology suitably advanced will effectively be magical" or some such. I'm paraphrasing somebody but damned if I know who.

In any, magic is a staple in fantasy RPG campaigns, whether we are talking spells or items.

Spells kinda match up to psionics or psi powers, but what matches up to the magic items?

Now, I'm not saying that D&D is simply killing things and taking their stuff - I'm mean, it is that but it's more too. The thing is that "stuff" is often magical in nature - potions, scrolls, rings, swords, etc etc... What is the parallel in SciFi?

Better loot... er, weapons?

I'm guessing alien artifacts.

Damn, I've really been away from SciFi RPGs for way too long ;)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

"Odyssey - The Complete Game Master's Guide to Campaign Management" Opens for Preorders June 3

+Gnome Stew 's / Engine Publishing's campaign management book Odyssey opens for preorders tomorrow. I've been privileged to have an advanced reviewer's copy of the PDF in my hands for a short while. I'll be doing my proper review of this later on this week, but it's timing couldn't be better, as I'm getting ready to launch my new SciFi campaign shortly.

I'm a notorious minimal preparer / highly improvisational type of GM (probably comes from years of procrastination in High School and College and at nearly 46 I'm too damn old to change) and I was moderately surprised to see that much of Odyssey is aimed at GMs similar to me.

I'll get to see Odyssey in action over this summer's campaign, which means I'll probably need to follow up this week's forthcoming review with actual "Play Updates".

You can also grab a 19 page preview over at Gnome Stew.

What Meaning Does "Official" Have in the OSR?

Recently I participated in an "online discussion" with someone that was looking for more Swords & Wizardry material. He was looking for new classes and such. I pointed him to some of the material posted during April's Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day blogfest, figuring he's find something to use, whether new classes, monsters, adventures, settings, house rules - over 140 posts from various bloggers can generate lots of material.

It's not what he wanted. He wanted more "official" classes and such from Frog God Games. I mentioned that wasn't very likely and pretty much opposite of the whole OSR thing.

It's possible he was coming from the world of Pathfinder or 4e, where turning out new classes, spells, monsters, settings and the like from Paizo and WotC is part of the whole revenue stream.

The OSR doesn't really work in that manner. Third parties offer expansions to the rules as options. Heck, even when the rules publishers themselves go beyond the original core, it's all optional.

Nothing is official in the OSR, not even the core rules.

Everything is official in the OSR, at least potentially, after approval from the DM.

Therefore, official has no true value in the OSR.

What's you feelings on "Official" and the OSR?

Adding Some More Volume - "OSR Distribution CD-ROM" - Can It Be Done?

+Timothy Brannan has a really intriguing post up over on his blog The Other Side about using a CD-Rom to promote the OSR at Cons and game stores. Here's a snippet (hit his blog for the rest and running commentary):

What about a FREE OSR distribution CD-ROM?
We put on the most popular free products that we have the permission to use, build a front end (HTML) that has the links to the PDFs on the disk and then links to the various sites and links to whatever else.
Each game would need some promotional "Ad" copy written.
The idea then is we, you, me, whomever demos the game then gives out copies of this disk to the players.
Off the top of my head I think we should include: 
Basic Fantasy
Swords & Wizardry
Labyrinth Lord (Free versions)
Lamentations of the Flame Princess (the free versions that out there)
Spellcraft & Swordplay (Basic version)
Matt Finch's Quick Primer for Old School gaming 
There could be and should be more.  
Hell, I'd put together a S&W compatible PDF just for something like this. It's a great way to get more eyes on the OSR, and with the compatibility of the systems, a rising tide would literally life all.

What say you all?

A Look at the Poll Results Thus Far for a "Online Swords & Wizardry Gaming Convention"

Let's see. 139 total votes. 94% of those votes would be interested in gaming and / or "Hangouts" with some of the creative side of Swords & Wizardry. (I suspect few that aren't interested bothered to vote, so the percentages are surely skewed. Still a nice number of responses, even with some multiple votes)

I think there is enough interest here to start with the broad strokes on how to organize this. I think the key here is not trying to replicate a "real space con" with a "cyber space con". The last attempt at that was an abysmal failure and that is not something anyone has a desire to repeat.

The strength of an online gathering / convention is the ability to get people together for gaming purposes from across the world and still allow them to game from their own homes. An online gaming con is simply about gaming, not vendors and publishers and the like.

It's needs about gaming - playing games and talking about games. Anything that gets on the way of that needs to be left behind.

Earliest we would be looking at this is mid to late September, so lots of time for thoughts, ideas, brainstorms and brainfarts ;)

As always, for this to be successful, it needs to be for the community by the community. W do have a most awesome community in the corner Swords & Wizardry calls home.

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