Saturday, November 30, 2013

So, What Was Your "Black Friday" Gift to Yourself This Year?

I've been highlighting the RPG deals as I've found them here on the blog -just look at a few of the posts right before this one to see some of the deals that are out there. I really do enjoy Black Friday much more these days, as I am 17 years removed from working retail, and almost anything that I really want to get, I can snag online.

So, what were my grabs this year?

The Frog God Games Grab Bag is probably my big gaming get. I like gaming gifts, and no one in my family know enough about gaming to do it right, so a grab bag of goodness works for me.

As for non-gaming, I snagged the Dell Venue 8 Pro with Win 8.1 and MS Office for $227 earlier this week on Amazon. Full Windows operating system on an 8" tablet. For a tech geek like me, it's an amazing little piece of computing.

So, what did you gift yourself on Black Friday?

Kickstarter - Talking About Far West (Late AGAIN) - Let's Look at Some of the "Patron Art"

Since Far West is late YET AGAIN (from the Nov 21 Update - "Completing the layout is taking me longer than I'd hoped for, due to some sort of virulent plague hitting the Skarka household. We will be ready to deliver the files to the printer (and the digital copies to you) in the next few days, though -- hopefully this weekend, definitely before the US Thanksgiving holiday next week."

Well, at least it's not "Con Crud" again.

I'm not sure how good Hershey's stuff was before he up and left the project midstream, but the above looks to me to be photoshopped - and not all that well either. BTW, that is apparently me in the green coat and red hands and orange face.

Another backer actually wanted his "portrait" to NOT be used, he was so disappointed in the results.

As for me? I no longer give a shit. When my book arrives, it will go right to the shelf along with the Myth & Magic Player's Handbook. Too much BS, too much drama and too little interest for me to care about this project at this point.

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyberborea on Sale For $7.50 At RPGNow

Somehow I missed this yesterday.

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is on sale for $7.50 in PDF at RPGNow. +Jeff Talanian also has 2 AS&SH adventures discounted. This is in addition to the boxed set (and  adventures) being 20% off until Dec 4th.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Mini Mini Review - Dark Camelot (Adventurers! RPG System)

Adventurers! is a minimalist RPG with Old School sensibilities. I intend to run a pick up game of it at North Texas next June, as I can pass out the rules to all my players without having to carry more than a handful of pieces of paper.

Dark Camelot is a setting / adventure / monster card assortment for the Adventurers! RPG.

Setting? Done in 2 pages. No map, but it's England, and we all know what that place looks like ;)

Adventure? Done in 2 pages. Which means if I print double sided, the setting and the adventure take up 2 sheets.

Pregens? 4 pregens, 2 per sheet.

Monster Cards? 5 sheets - 3 stated for the adventure, one blank sheet and one sheet of card backs.

All this for $1.13 - damn near free.

Adventurers! itself costs $1.13

For $2.26 you get a complete game, setting and adventure. All fitting on a handful of sheets of paper. Pretty neat if you ask me.

From the blurb:

Welcome Adventurers in Dark Camelot, the first Adventurers! setting!
King Arthur lays in his deathbead, severely wounded, Excalibur was stolen and Merlin the Mage disappeared.
The kingdom is in turmoil; Saxon marauders, Pictish barbarians and robber barons are only the smaller problem: strange, dark things are leaving
their hideouts in Faerie to hunt the poor villagers in their houses.
In this setting you take the role of gallant knights, wise enchanters
and even bold commoners, united by the goal of saving Britain from the impending doom.
Are you ready to face Dark Camelot?

In this game you'll find:
+A complete setting description
+Hints and ideas for character types suitable to medieval Britain
+Two new skills
+New gear
+24 new creatures on Creature Cards

Special Bonus
+The Madness of Sir Richard - A full adventure in two pages
+Four Pregen heroes

As always, all in 2 PAGES!

DCC RPG Core Book and Selection of DCC RPG Adventures - 50% Off in PDF and Print

Goodman Games is offering a nice assortment of of DCC RPG products to kick off a campaign.

"From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, Goodman Games is offering the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game core rulebook at 50% off the PDF price! That's only $12.49 - but only until the end of Cyber Monday! And you can then start your adventures with three modules that are also 50% off: for only $3.49, you can pick up DCC #68: People of the Pit, DCC #69: The Emerald Enchanter, or DCC #70: Jewels of the Carnifex"

Back to more bargain hunting ;)

EDIT: Some of the PRINT versions are 50% off at the Goodman Games Online Store, such as:

RuneQuest 6 PDF (and others) On Sale for $4.99 on RPGNow

There is much to like about the RuneQuest 6 ruleset, but the price of the PDF was never one of those things - $25 is steep, no matter hoe you cut it.

$5 is cheap, way cheap for what you get, and it's this price for 1 day only. If you are at all interested in RuneQuest, this is you chance to check it out. Do it.

There are other rulesets that are one sale for 4.99 for 1 day only:

Broken Shield - Superhuman Sci-Fi Noir Roleplaying

HELLAS: Worlds of Sun and Stone 2nd Edition

Midgard Campaign Setting - from Kobold Press

There's a lot of stuff on sale at RPGNow at the moment. Let me dig through and present some more highlights later ;)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fantasy Flight Games Holiday Sale - WFRP , WH40K RPG and More

Fantasy Flight Games is having a fairly large sale with some excellent discounts on a good portion of their games.

Looks like most of the WH40K stuff is 50% off or more and some classic WFRP 2e stuff is discounted by 75% or more. Heck, some of the WFRP 3e stuff is discounted 75% or more - shame I just never could get into 3e.

Chaos Marauders is a mere 5 bucks. I can't tell you how many afternoons were spent playing this game in my college years. What a bargain. Heck, I may just buy an updated copy.

Update - HeroQuest 25th Anniversary Project Pulled Down by Kickstarter Because of Cease & Desist Order From Moon Design

thanks to +Tor Traumann for the latest official statement from Gamezone:
Please bear with us. Gamezone and Moon Design are in a meeting negotiating a settlement for both parts at this time. 
Moon Design believes that their interests in the HEROQUEST brand within the USA will be infringed upon. Although we are not distributing or selling our product in US territory. As a precaution Moon Design presented a C/D on the 27th of Nov. Our talks are coming to a point where the negotiation will benefit all those involved, which finally would let us offer our product in stores in the USA sometime next year. 
The Moon Design C/D was suspended, but on the table, as another element in the negotiation. Here at Gamezone it is our hopeful understand that its activation is possibly by error as both parties where coming to an agreement. Said agreement would finally end beneficially for Fans in the USA by opening the physical distribution to stores in that country. This brief pause of activity is as harmful to the interests of Moon Design as it is to Gamezone Miniatures. 
We are as surprised as the Heroquest community, we didn’t expect that on Thanksgiving, of all days, to be wrapped up in this mess, that is so disagreeable for everyone involved. On a day such as this it is extremely complicated to get in touch with Moon Design. We are working diligently on a solution so we can continue with the project from where it is at the moment and reinforce it for the future.
I don't see this as harmful in the least to Moon Design. I'm sure they see the monies flowing into the Kickstarter and want a nice sized chunk of it for the use of their trademark. As for the following statement: "Moon Design believes that their interests in the HEROQUEST brand within the USA will be infringed upon. Although we are not distributing or selling our product in US territory." - Gamezone is selling to US customers directly through Kickstarter.

In any case, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

HeroQuest 25th Anniversary Project Pulled Down by Kickstarter Because of "Intellectual Property Dispute"

Thanks to daffadu for updating the original post with this latest bit of news:
"This is a message from Kickstarter Support. We're writing to inform you that a project you backed, Heroquest 25th Anniversary, is the subject of an intellectual property dispute. 
The project has been removed from public view until the dispute is resolved, which can take up to 30 days. The project’s funding and the countdown to its deadline have been stopped. If the project becomes available again, the countdown will continue and the new deadline will extend past the original deadline for as much time as the project was unavailable. You can find out more by reading our Copyright Policy and our Trademark Policy." 
Am I surprised? No.

Do i expect it to get resolved anytime soon? Maybe for the 26th Anniversary...

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Boxed Set and More - 20% Off

I'll be posting relevant Black Friday / Cyber Monday / Holiday Sales as I find them as they apply to the OSR or gaming in general - Tenkar

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is on sale for 20% off until December 4th. This is includes the awesome boxed set, the adventures and AS&SH Player's Manual (which I never knew existed until I found this sale). Yep, we're talking print stuff.

Good stuff, and something I plan to liberally borrow from for my S&W / Wilderlands Campaign.

OSRIC Pocket Edition Now Available For Free in EPUB and MOBI Formats

So, this whole "Black Friday" shit has started early, and you've found yourself a deal on an e-book reader. Now, it would be awesome to read some of your RPG products on it, but most programs that do conversions from PDF to e-book reader blow chunks.

Now, if you want to put you OSRIC rules on your Kindle Paperwhite, you can read them in style (Kindles use MOBI, most other e-readers use EPUB),

You can grab the OSRIC rules for free in MOBI or EPUBat RPGNow to keep your e-reader in good company. Otherwise, you may be limited to FATE and the like on your e-reader ;)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thieves of Fortress Badabaskor / Citadel of Fire From Judges Guild / Necro Games For a Buck Each in Print!

See the above?

I had to stop myself from buying more over at Paizo's huge Great Golem Sale. These are Print copies, not PDFs. It's costing me more to ship then it did to actually buy them.

It's a good season to be a fan of RPGs ;)

Details on the Frog God Games Holiday Grab Bag - Some Damn Cool Loot

+Bill Webb updated the backers of recent FGG Kickstarters with info on some of the more unique loot available to those that dive in on the Frog God Games grab bags:

It's time to clear out the FGG warehouse. We need to make room for new books, and Mama Frog says the old stuff must go! We want everyone to promise they will not open these until Christmas (ok, Hanukkah is ok too), and we want to hear who got what in the boxes. You could be the lucky one who nets a Wilderlands Box set or even a Rappan Athuk Reloaded in one of these!

Bill has enlisted the aid of Baby Frog, Lil' Frog and Mama Frog to gather up odds and ends from the past 15 years to pack it all up and offer it to you at clearance prices. You see, even 1 book still takes up shelf space in the warehouse, and its time to clear those shelves. For Black Friday, we are assembling 200 grab bag orders (first come first served). The grab bag orders will consist of 200 boxes of each type--$29.99 (medium priority box) and $99.99 (large priority box). Boxes will contain random items from FGG and Necromancer Games with a retail value of at least 3x the cost. Many items will be out of print, exclusive or even rare. Boxes may contain items including dice, t-shirts, maps, Kickstarter bonus items, miniatures, cards, modules and hardcover and softcover books. You could probably double your money (at least) on Ebay. We just don't have time for that.

All boxes will contain randomly selected material from the past 15 years. That includes the low press run Troll Lord Games and Kenzer-distributed Necromancer Games modules from the early 200o's. A few ultra rare items will be included at random within the boxes. The Frog's will pack and seal all the boxes before they ship and we will not know who gets what box contents. All items are new condition, some may have a bit of shelf wear--as they are up to 15 years old.

Ultra rares and unusual items going into these boxes include but are not limited to: Wilderlands of High Fantasy Box set (shrink) including all 18 maps! - Copy of Rappan Athuk Reloaded (shrink) 2 copies of Crystal Skull (only 500 made, all files lost) - 2 copies of City State of the Invincible Overlord (including map) - 2 copies of Caverns of Thracia - Tome of Horrors original printing - 2 copies of the signed Gencon only release of Slumbering Tsar 1 (only 251 made) - 2 copies of Bill's Rappan Athuk notes - 2 copies of Nick Logue's Razor Coast notes - A staff copy (10 made) of the Rappan Athuk leather Edition, custom illustrated - Out of print Mythmere Games books (deskbooks, Ice Tower of the Salka original press, etc.) - Level 7B and Call of the Frog God Kickstarter exclusive modules (not for sale normally) -  Kickstarter only Orcus and Tsathogga Miniatures by Reaper - Copy of Vault of Larin Karr -  4 copies of the Lost City of Barakus, including the fold out map - Copy of Rappan Athuk 3 (original press)  - Copy of Tomb of Abysthor (original press) Note, these items are hard copies only, and no pdfs are provided.

All boxes will ship priority mail with overpack boxes inside to ensure safe delivery (hence the extra cost over standard priority rates--we have to pay for those inner boxes, and we cannot have your Crystal Skull arrive damaged!) and will be sent over the next 2-3 weeks.

Shipping is extra--Large/$17 US, $48 Canada, $77 international and medium/$12 US, $32 Canada, $48 international.

Multiple orders are allowed. The problem is even 1 copy of a module takes up a box space on the shelves---so I am clearing out a great many of these. The Kenzer books were either 500 or 1000 total made, and the TLG press books ran in the 500-2000 print range total--10-14 years ago. This may be the last and only opportunity to get copies of many of the old oop Necromancer titles. Opened copies of Wilderlands are going for over $300--one or two lucky folks are gonna score.

There also may be a surprise or two tossed in from my personal collection (I have extras of some VERY rare early 1980's and late 1970's stuff). That's why I want people to post on the FGG forum with what they got. A few folks are gonna win the lottery--the rest will get at least 3x value, and I'll have space to store the next few books we make. Everybody wins.

As I said in yesterday's post, I'm in for the $100 grab bag. Anything that I get that is a duplicate of something I already own will be offered up in an upcoming contest here at The Tavern. That would include The Wilderlands Boxed set or any of the recent Kickstarters of the Frogs I've supported. We (more than me) have an idea for a contest to kick of the New Year with a bang :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Frog God Games Has a Holiday Grab Bag? F' Me!

Yep, one of The Taverns fine patrons was nice enough to point out that Frog God Games has a Holiday Grab Bag. The pricing for the lower end is kinda strange, as it mentions a 30 dollar bag but shows a 70 dollar bag as the low end choice.  edit: confusing, but it's a -$70, so effectively $30

The $99 bag gives back $300 bucks in goodies - shit, I hope I get Swords and Wizardry goodies! I'm in for $99. +Matt Finch , tell +Bill Webb to hook up trubluniteATgmail with S&W loot please (well, some classic 3x Necro stuff would work well too ;)

Kickstarter - HeroQuest 25th Anniversary Edition - It Will Fund, But Will It Succeed?

I remember Heroquest. I had a copy that never got played, and in the end I looted it for dice and minis and chucked the rest. My group had absolutely no inclination to play it when we had choices such as Talisman, Lonely Mountain, Chaos Marauders and the like to choose from. Heroquest was aimed at kids. Whether that's a true statement or no, it was our perception.

Gamezone Miniatures of Spain are the ones running the new Heroquest 25th Anniversary Edition Kickstarter. Apparently, they have the license to produce Heroquest within Spain - so they can distribute within Spain and sell direct anywhere in the world.

Strangely enough, the Kickstarter is priced in Canadian Dollars, not Euros. Not sure what's up with that, and I wouldnt be surprised to see Hasbro, parent company of Milton Bradley, challenge the new edition's legality, and it certainly seems strange to watch a third party produce another company's product, apparently without permission - or at least, under a method not planned on under the deal made 25 years or so ago.

All that being said, the Kickstarter launched yesterday with a goal of $58k CAD and has already surpassed $309K CAD. Heck, this may give the Reaper 1 Kickstarter a run for it's money.

Can someone sell me on the game's appeal? I mean besides nostalgia, which I obviously don't have, as I looted the box and threw out the remainders...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Putting a Serial Number on Loot - Tackling Tracking of Treasure

I admit to being a lazy DM at times, especially when it comes to loot. Not that I don't like and enjoy unique loot - remember that "thing" with the 2,000 coppers? It's just that tracking it and it's value is often a PITA. Especially when the gems, jewelry, silverware, small bronze statue of the now forgotten halfling god of exceptional height and the like need to be tracked and sold at a later point.

Throwing myself at the mercy of the Court of My Peers, I'm guilty of converting such for the players at the end of a session without bothering to barter / bargain / trade or use a moneychanger. Bad, I know, it's just that it's such a pain to remember the values of items the party found 2 dungeons and 5 sessions in the past.

I'm thinking of giving gems / jewelry / other unique treasures a serial number. That way, when the player wants to see sell the gold doohickey, instead of me scouring notes or past pages from an old adventure, I just look up the corresponding number in my treasure chart:

"I wanna sell that bejeweled toilet plunger from that sewer adventure we waded through."

"Sure, no problem - what's the number on that?"


"K, you'll get 125 GP - maybe more if you clean it first."

Actually, same method would work well with unidentified potions and the like.

The more I think about it, the more I like it.

Baldur's Gate 2 - One of My Last Experiences With 2e

I was bouncing around on the WotC site and I noticed that Baldur's Gate 2 now has an "Enhanced Edition". Just thinking about it brings back memories of gaming on my laptop with BG, BG2 and Icewind Dale, trying to keep my table top RPG experiences moving forward even after the true gaming had stopped.

February of '96 was my last true RPG experience for about a dozen years. Sure, there were MMOs - Everquest, Anarchy Online, Everquest 2, Warhammer, Meridian 59, Sierra's The Realm, Ultima Online, Dungeons & Dragons Online and many, many more. None however, were D&D like I had last experienced it.

The Baldur's Gate series kept that fire burning for many a year. It WAS AD&D 2e, or as close to it as I was getting in those days. "Go for the eyes Boo!" became my rallying cry. It was good. It was fun. It wasn't as good as the real thing, but it didn't need to be, as I didn't have access to the real thing.

I'm tempted to buy the new enhanced Baldur's Gate 2 to relive some of those memories, not because I need to these days - I get my gaming in regularly now - but because the memories are good memories. It was a good game for the time, and I've yet to see anything in the days since that came close the the D&D tabletop experience as I knew it. Well, maybe Temple of Elemental Evil, but that was a buggy mess, and I never got into the temple itself.

Hmmm, wonder if they could enhance ToEE next?

What's on Your Christmas List?

As I spend free moments updating the OSR Christmas spreadsheet, it got me thinking about Christmas (or Hanukah) list in general - alright, specifically gaming related.

Earlier today Amazon had the Dell Venue Pro 8" Windows 8.1 Tablet for $229 - it sold at shortly after I snagged it. This could certainly be my alternative to using a laptop on my trips to the Poconos, and as a player at least, the screen size should be sufficient to run Roll20 within Google + Hangouts when used in conjunction with a bluetooth mouse and keyboard. I've asked for some accessories already for Christmas (case, adaptor, mini SD Card)

What do I want for Christmas that is more directly gaming related?

Maybe I can convince my wife to get me one of the Palladium Books X-Mass Grab Bags. Not sure exactly what I would request, but I always dig original art and signed prints.

I already did the Goodman Games Grab Bag, and the loot hit a value of about $140 (at a cost of $42.35 including shipping)- even if half was 4e stuff, I can convert the two adventures to S&W for use. I did get a 3rd Printing of The Dungeon Alphabet and two DCC RPG adventure amongst the loot in question.

Kenzer doesn't seem to be doing any specials for this Christmas season.

So, what's on your list?

So, You Said You Wanted Original Art, Pre-Production Minis and More in Santa's OSR Christmas Sack of Holding?

Christmas of 2013 is going to be a very, very special time in the OSR corner of our hobby. While others fret about the latest 4e/ pre-5e release from WotC or making sure their stocking gets stuffed with Pathfinder miniatures that aren't duplicates, over here in the OSR we have Santa's Multi-Dimensional Sack of Holding. I'm not sure how we can fit even more in, but we're doing it.

Last chance to add to the list (unless we have communicated prior) will be this coming Friday, 11/29.

Today's gifts are courtesy of +Zach Glazar , he of the Whisper & Venom Kickstart. There are some very unique items that Zach is donating for OSR Christmas Giveaway:

- A giant map from the Whisper and Venom Kickstarter

- the prototype minis (5) (4, as I'm keeping one ;) from the Whisper & Venom Kickstarter (these are truly limited)

- a Boot Hill Boxed Set (possible missing one counter)

- an early SSI Gold Box PC Game (Signed by Jim Ward, Steve Winter and David "Zeb" Cook) 

- is a piece of original art by Lloyd Metcalf (giant spider) 

-  number 17/20 of the limited edition Jeff Dee print of the cover of Whisper & Venom, signed of course

- and some other odds & ends

yeah, i think a Stamps.com account is going to be needed ;)

here's the rest of the list

An Assortment of Goodman Games 4e Stuff in print (donated by your Tavern Keeper - I'll draw up the list later - may be awarded as one or two bundles)

The Outpost On The Edge of the Far Reaches adventure module in Print (donated by +Paul Fini )

Issue 2 of Tales of High Adventure pulp magazine in print (donated by +Paul Fini )

previous donations:

NOD Issues 1-21 in PDF (Bundle donated by +John Stater )

Blood & Treasure in PDF (donated by +John Stater )

Space Princess in PDF (donated by +John Stater )

Pars Fortuna in PDF (donated by +John Stater )

The Witch in PDF (donated by +Timothy Brannan )

Eldritch Witchery in PDF (donated by +Timothy Brannan )

The Shrine of St Aleena in print (donated by Peter Spahn / Small Niche Games)

In The Prison of the Squid Sorcerer - 2 Print Copies (donated by +Paul Wolfe / Mystic Bull Games)

The Tomb of Squonk and the Silent Army 3 PDF Copies (donated by +Paul Wolfe / Mystic Bull Games)

- a set of handmade Elder Futhark Runes made and donated by +matt jackson

Terratic Tome and Slaughter Grid print copies donated by +Rafael Chandler

- 5 PDF copies of That's a Goblin!? donated by +Mark Chance

- $15 RPGNow Gift Card donated by Joshua De Santo

A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore in hardcover and a pdf bundle of all three Adventures Dark and Deep core rulebooks donated by +Joseph Bloch

- "The Gnomes of Levnec" and "A Thousand Dead Babies" in PDF donated by +Zzarchov Kowolski

- a WardCo reprint of the original Metamorphosis Alpha rules signed by James Ward himself donated by +Tim Snider

- print copies of TM1 The Ogress of Anubis and VA1 Valley of the Five Fires donated by Rich "New Big Dragon" - Rich will be mailing via Lulu and will eat the shipping cost for international recipients, so he is double generous :)

- a set of The Manor (issues 1-5) in print and 1 set in PDF donated by +Tim Shorts

-  1 *PRINT* (+PDF) copy each of Crawl, 1-8  and a copy of Hack: Firearms! donated by +Dak Ultimak

1 set including the following -S&W Whitebox (softcover), Heroes & Other Worlds Adventure Game and Whitehack (a very generous donor)

DCC RPG Core Rulebook (1st Printing) (your tavern keeper)

AL 4 - The Way Station and AL 5 - Stars in the Darkness for the DCC RPG (print set - possibly more than one set - donated by +Purple Duck Games 

2 copies of Lords of Gossamer & Shadow (hardcover - your tavern keeper)

1 copy of Dwarves & Dragons (strategy game by Ken St. Andre - signed and numbered 33/100 and donated by your tavern keeper)

1 copy of Three Days Until Retirement (in print and donated by Stuart K - who also wrote and Kickstarted it successfully)

1 copy of Treasure Awaits (softcover andan excellent OSR styles game donated by +Brett Bernstein )

1 copy of Lords of Olympus (softcover B&W donated by +Brett Bernstein )

Other items I find in the prize closet / basement (old games, duplicates, etc)

Other items donated in print and / or PDF

RPGNow store credit

The list is STILL growing - it will be updated as needed when more stuff is nailed down.

Tenkar's Tavern Proudly Presents "The Second in a Series of Short Short Stories Written by Bruce Heard for the World of Calidar"

This is the second in a series of promotional short stories written by Bruce Heard for the World of Calidar. Click here for Episode One: “Into the Vortex”

Episode Two: The Cleansing

Lázaro pulled himself from the invisible barrier separating him from his loyal servant. He followed the seemingly interminable succession of alcoves imprisoning the people of his village. Weary of the inexplicable catastrophe, he soldiered on, resisting a strange lethargy taking hold in his mind.

I am Lázaro of the Santa Hermandad,” he repeated to keep himself awake. “And I will not be denied my revenge.” He spun his sword with a whoosh, slicing through the lingering mist. The author of his predicament was out there, and he wanted to find him.

More alcoves and stairs followed as the young man struggled with his fatigue. “Lázaro. . . Santa Hermandad!” he cried again.

His last few steps led to an empty recess. His eyes focused on his name engraved inside. A number of other symbols followed, somewhat similar to others he’d once seen in old ruins.

In a flash he found himself standing within, looking out. He hammered against the invisible barrier with the pommel of his sword. The sound belied the sturdiness of his prison. Almost passing out for reasons he could not fathom, he hollered again.

. . .azaro. . . erman. . .”

His limbs felt as stone, and soon he sank into a dreaming state, reliving his existence in reverse: finding the garrison’s commander, flying though the storm, remembering the village the day he disembarked, his journey across the ocean, his escape, his judgement. It all became a confused jumble of thoughts, his and those of others creeping in.

. . .Azar. . .” he whispered one last time.

An eternity later, the sound of approaching voices stirred his mind. Indistinct at first, two voices came through: one a female’s, dark and razor-sharp, the other deep and drawn out like a rumbling volcano.

This one is of interest,” said the latter in a long, heaving breath. “Strong, brave, and devout. He was the last to arrive.”

He seems young. He’ll have to be taught.”

He could be tested, O Dark One.”

Proceed. If he survives, keep his essence and erase the rest. What of the others?”

Souls of no consequence. They will be sold as one.”

The voices faded away as the young man’s thoughts drifted into a maze of confused sensations. Feeling slowly returned to his fingers. He concentrated his willpower on his hands. Lázaro could still sense the sword’s hilt still locked in his grasp. He focused on it like on a light at the end of a tunnel. He keenly understood the weapon’s uses, but didn’t know why.

A word kept surfacing in his mind. It sounded oddly familiar. Azar. . . His name? Yes, it must have been. He could not remember anything else, but he perceived there was more, buried somewhere in his head, just past the edge of consciousness. There had to be more. He felt naked and lost, as if his very soul had been scoured of its identity.

When his limbs regained the softness of life, the young man collapsed. The invisible barrier had vanished, and he fell forward. As he lay on the cold, stone floor, he focused on what seemed real: his flesh and bones, the heart beating in his chest, the sword in his hand, his burning desire to rip through the shrouds of mystery suppressing his memories. A purpose. He needed a purpose to give a sense to this maddening void.

Azar. . .” he whispered again, as if it were a steady rock in the middle of a sea.

A low growl responded in the fog, not far from him. Something lurked out there, just out of sight, and the young man knew it was coming for him. He staggered to his feet and inched forward, his senses exacerbated by fear. There it was, his purpose, the simplest of things: one’s survival instinct. Kill or be killed.

Amid swirls of mist, a beast not unlike a huge six-legged leopard in shades of white and gray, stared back at him with white eyes. Mottles clouding her fur shifted, and the beast vanished into the mist. Snarls told the young man the predator was moving, but he couldn’t tell where exactly.

The beast reappeared behind him, her enormous snout and fangs inches behind the young man’s head, her breath chilling him to his bones. As he spun round, his sword swished through emptiness. She had vanished once more. She was playing a deadly game. He’d have to remember this.

He took a few more steps. A soft growl rose from his left. In a leap of faith, he lunged to his right instead, into the fog. The beast reappeared there, a hair away from his blade, roared, and faded away. Just missed. He was beginning to understand his foe’s tactic. He knew she would also be more cautious now.

Another snarl. Another lunge. But her paw struck him in the back, tearing through his rags and his skin. He rolled out of the way, got back to his feet, ready to fight, but she’d faded back into the mist. He felt blood drenching his back and legs. Frustrated and in pain, he tried another trick.

Out of despair and defiance, he bellowed his name as he remembered it. He ran screaming in a straight line, spinning his sword and expecting the beast to react as predators do when a wounded pray bolts.

Suddenly, he stopped, turned around, and lunged. The steel bit into thick hide and flesh as the beast reappeared. His blade sank through her paw as she pounced on him. Her powerful jaws locked on his left forearm, slicing through muscle and crushing his bones. Her wounded paw snapped the blade in half, like a twig. But she was hurting now and off-balance. Seizing the instant, nearly blind with pain, he rolled under his mangled arm, bringing the beast’s head closer, and stabbed her eye with the remains of his sword. It sank in to its guard.

The beast jumped back, but too late. It twitched, hissed, and fell.

The young man remained prone, pain from his lacerated back and torn left arm overwhelming him. Life was escaping his body once more, blood pooling beneath him on the floor. A last thought crossed his mind to pray for help and salvation, but he felt at a loss to remember whom he once honored. With his last breath he simply cried out, “Azar!”

To be continued. . .

This short story was written in connection with the upcoming Kickstarter campaign for the new World of Calidar. Others will follow on different forums and blogs during the coming weeks.

Click here to track down these all these episodes and, one layer at a time, unveil different aspects of this new fantasy setting. Click here for the original announcement about Calidar. Be sure to read it if you haven’t already.

Thanks, and have fun!

Huge thanks to Bruce Heard for including the Tavern in the roll out of Calidar. Looks to be a fun ride for all - Erik Tenkar

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Introducing the "B" Team - A New Well, New Worms and a New Party

I ran the once a month "B" Team of my Wilderlands campaign through Well of the Worm for their first session, just like I ran the main group through it about a month ago. Well, maybe not "just alike", as I did change some things around, based upon my earlier experience running it and adjusting for the party size (we almost had a 4 player group, but a poor connection speed for one of the players dropped us to 3 - and no cleric - which seems to be par for the course these days). Besides, with all the trouble the "A" group caused, killing off the mid and higher level heroes and the rise of evil, two towns having similar problems fits the current situation.

Joining in the fun were +Jason Hobbs , +Peter V. Dell'Orto , +Ray Case and +Chris Maler

Google Hangouts was NOT cooperating. Peter was not getting invites, and when he finally did, it was to empty hangouts. We lost Chris early on to connection issues. Hangouts has been buggy as hell since the latest update, but you get what you pay for.

Anyhow, our party of a Ranger, a Fighter and a M-U/Thief did well in clearing out the tunnels of the worms and their beast mother.

The highlights (at least for me were) -

- The amazing M-U/Thief was a killing machine, up until he was brought below zero and nearly killed himself. Sometimes the blade is mightier than the pen ;)

- When a beast is chained up, kill it from a distance (something the first group failed to do, as they "unchained the beast")

- The elven massacre went pretty quickly - it was the dismembering of the bodies that took time

Actually, the main difference between the two groups is that "A" burns everything and "B" dismembers everything - to prevent the dead from rising and becoming further problems. Burning may have been the preferred method if they had had any oil ;)

The players rolled well and I rolled fairly poorly. One of the great things about Roll20 is it keeps the dice rolls in the open, which discourages any friendly DM fudging (which I've been guilty of in years gone by).

All in all, a really fun session and I'm looking forward to the next monthly session. Just need to add another player or three, to increase the pool of potential victims ;)

Mini Review - The Manor Issue #5 (OSR Zine)

I've been reading +Tim Shorts 's The Manor since the first issue and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one. The latest release is no different. Well, except that this time, Tim has invited other's to play in his sandbox with him.

Actually, before I go any further, I need to address the art. Two simple words: Fucking amazing. Better than I've seen in many a "professional" RPG product. Jay Penn deserves a loud shout out. I don't know if he's looking for other work, but if he is, it's damn good.

Lets see, the first article is Vineyard of Villainy, with some excellent portrait work by none other that - Jay Penn. The NPCs highlighted are excellent - their backgrounds and motivations paint a picture of the same high qualities their accompanying portraits are composed of. I'll be dropping these in my sandbox.

Chris Conski is the first "guest author", if you will. His article on Cursed Concoctions is a nice selection of alternatives to "poison in the potion bottle" to keep the PCs honest.

400 Tavern Names by Sean Robson is a table to generate random tavern names. Does what is says on the side of the box and is very handy if running a sandbox, as you never know where the players will wind up next.

I never though an article on "Doors" would hold much interest, but Tim does a fine job with it. Much of it is mere flavor, but without flavor, your dungeons can be very bland. My personal favorite? The Delarogue with it's 32 lock system. Hell, that could be a campaign unto itself ;)

Tim's 20 Random City Encounters gives insight into the man's twisted mind. I simply love it, especially as each encounter has a paragraph of detail for the players and the second has the DM's angle / secrets / twist. Well done.

Wrapping things up is a Random Hand Drawn Map. Small, it could serve as a crypt if fleshed out, or at least, that's my vision of it.

Possibly the best +Tim Shorts has produced yet. I'll know for sure when I hold my print copy and not just the PDF. Yes, there is something special about getting The Manor in one's mailbox :)
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