Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - A Tavern Keeper's Review of the Past Year

2014 certainly had it's highs and lows. From a personal POV, losing both one of my Detectives to cancer and the family dog to a brain tumor early in 2014 didn't give much of a high note. It really did start out as a crappy year. It hasn't ended much better with the assassinations of two of my fellow officers just days before Christmas. So on that level, 2014 has been a fairly crappy year.

On the gaming front, 2014 has been fairly good. 5e has finally released and appears playable to my eyes (but not to the point that I'd put aside S&W or DCC.) On the Kickstarter front, Dwimmermount finally released in a usable format. Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls has not. Metamorphosis Alpha, the deluxe Reprint funded in April of 2014 and arrived in December. The Metamorphosis Alpha Roleplaying Game funded in April of 2012 and still hasn't shipped. Then again, there were all those Kickstarters that entertained the crap out of us. Cardboard gaming tables for the win (go to the link - watch the video - it never gets old for me ;)

Podcast-wise, Tenkar & the Badger is awaiting a reboot while The Brainstorm is about to release it's 27th episode on January 2. Yes, I started the year listening to podcasts and ended the year co-hosting two of them.

I really appreciate everyone's patience, especially as the 12 Days of OSR Christmas slowly slip into 2015. We will get the next 4 days out. Trust me. It's just that 2014 was "that kind of a year" from beginning to end.

Thank you for reading this small blog. Those that listen to the podcasts, thank you for listening. Thank you for being part of the community. I really do appreciate it :)

Kickstarter - Codename: Morningstar - About to be Kicked From it's High & Lofty Goals and Crash Back to Earth

So, it looks like folks sent a message to Codename: Morningstar, as it has six days to meet it's lofty goal of $425,000 and is currently sitting at less than $68,000.

Remember this wonderful quote?
"not pledging is telling the industry that you are happy with the status quo."
Yep, just like it's biblical namesake, it seems to have been rejected by the vast majority. Yes, hubris without being able to back it often leads to similar results. This isn't being happy with the status quo, it's not wanting to back a shitty product.

What's in the future for Codename: Morningstar? I suspect more of the same. There is simply too much invested in this money sink already for them to abandon it. Instead, they'll have to actually try and sell it once they have an actual working product.

Go figure that one out ;)

BLUEHOLME™ Prentice Rules Available POD at Lulu Starting at $4.99

So, why is it that the BLUEHOLME™ Prentice Rules have that little "™" in the title? Is it really that important to indicate the trademark in the title? I don't see the same with Swords & Wizardry and Labyrinth Lord, or do I?

     Swords & Wizardry™

     Labyrinth Lord™

Eh, don't like it ;)

In any case, BLUEHOLME is a decent set of OSR rules, and having them available in either saddle stitch ($5.99) or perfect bound ($4.99) at Lulu is a pretty good deal.

You can always grab the BLUEHOLME PDF at PWYW pricing at RPGNow before buying it in print.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Adventures in the East Mark - One and Done - No Further Boxed sets in the Future

Latest update from Adventures in the East Mark - The Red Box by Extra-Dimensional Publishing. Looks like the Red Box will be the first and only English entry in the series. Damn shame.

Update presented in it's entirety:

Overdue Update on Adventures in the East Mark

Posted by Extra-Dimensional Publishing

This is the update that I've not wanted to write but I want to be open with you, our fantastic backers.
Due to a number of factors, the relationship with XD and our Spanish partners will not continue. I am sad about that, especially as that means that the East Mark product line will not continue in the US, at least in the near future and under the eXtra-Dimensional banner. This does also include the Walkure license too, but fortunately this severing of our license may mean you see that product in the US sooner than if it had remained with us.

So what happened? Our greatest folly, it seems, was to overprint box sets, in hopes for the future of the line. To do so we got additional investment to take advantage of the better price per set we'd get from a bigger order. But distributors in our industry have thus far not been interested in carrying the product, due largely to the size of the box and what that means for shipping.

Our focus currently is on getting our backers the last of what we owe you. That means Tony's Lovecraftian adventure, which, while now finished, is not laid out in a module format. I'm working on that and have plans to get it out before the end January. This is and has always been planned as a digital only release.

That also means releasing the Beta of the Blue Box set for those who chose that add-on and our Titan backers. We have about 100 unedited pages translated and I am releasing that compilation before the end of this week. I don't know that we'll be able to get more translated or any of it edited and laid out, but we have some options we are exploring. This is perhaps the thing I am most sad about as I've often stressed that the quality of the setting is what sets it apart from just being another OSR product. I am looking at any means possible to at the very least get the translation finished with hopes to have it fully laid out at some point.

We made some mistakes, but we learned from them and any future campaign would have been more successful from it. But I am proud of what we accomplished, proud of the product we produced, and proud of the enjoyment the fans seem to have gotten out of the game.

Please feel free to contact me directly at david@xdpublishing.com

(http://mailto:david@xdpublishing.com) if you have any questions.

Thank you so much for your trust, your faith, and your support. XD will live on, but certainly in a different form. If you want to help, please encourage friends to buy a set from our remaining stock direct from us at our online store (http://xdpublishing.com/product/adventures-in-the-east-mark-red-box-basic-rule-set/) or from any other retailer selling the set.

-David Brown

Free OSR - The Smoking Tower of Lan Yu (Sine Nomine Publishing)

In case I've failed to say this in the past, +Kevin Crawford IS the Man. No, really.

The Smoking Tower of Lan Yu is a free OSR adventure released by Kevin into the wilds of the OSR, but it's more than that. It's a design sample on how to put together your own Old School module. It's also all open, for one to do with as they wish. Even the art. All praise +Kevin Crawford and Sine Nomine Publishing!

From the blurb:
On the island of Kai Besil the earth trembles with the threat of a terrible fire to come. The forbidding Pillar of Lan Yu plumes white with new smoke, and the warning flames in the village of Talamau burn red and blue with dire promise. Can heroes be found to restore the volcano’s ancient binding, or are the islanders doomed to perish in fire and choking ash?

The Smoking Pillar of Lan Yu is a playable module for most OSR games, but its real purpose is as a worked example and a resource for other small publishers interested in old-school module page design. The module has been built to echo early 1980-era TSR module layouts, with sections exampling village, wilderness, and dungeon layouts. A "Commentary" layer in the PDF can be turned on and off to explain the particulars of each page's design choices. 
The files include the PDF itself, the .IDD InDesign source file for Adobe InDesign CC, and an .IDML InDesign markup file that should be backwards-compatible with many earlier versions of InDesign. An art folder is also included with the art used in the module, all of which was either made by myself or drawn from the free Scarlet Heroes Art Pack available on DTRPG. Any of it can be used freely for your own projects, whether personal or commercial. 
All users are encouraged to take the module apart and use its pieces for their own projects. While a perfect replication of TSR trade dress is generally a bad idea in your own work, you can use the objects, paragraph styles, and page layouts for your own products. The commentary layer provides hints as to why the choices were made for each, and you can carry this information into your own creations.

Do We Do a Kickstarter Dos and Don'ts Post(s)?

Looking over my assortment of Kickstarter posts, I'm wondering if I should put together a post or two listing basic Kickstarter "dos and don'ts", such as:

- make sure your funding levels actually add up to funding your project


- wear shoes in your videos


- don't have public fights with those that critique your Kickstarter presentation

So, what say you all?

Yea or nay?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Kickstarter - Shadows of Esteren - A Medieval Horror RPG: Occultism (5th in the series - I STILL don't know which books you need to play)

Shadows of Esteren (I always want to pronounce it "estrogen".) Amazing art. Awesome presentation. I supported a previous Kickstarter and I still don't know if I have the core books needed to play. Not that I plan to play it, it just looks awesome.

Great, but which do I need to play the fucking game. No Book 1 option? Is that not needed? Fuck me!

My God. So many flavors, so many options. I'm so confused.

But the art...

Is there a mechanics free setting book? Or just an option for art prints? I don't want the music or the fiction.

Damn but look at the pretty lights...

The Brainstorm Podcast Hits Episode #26 - Not Bad for it's First Year

I still find it hard to believe we've hit episode #26 at The Brainstorm Podcast. It's not that I have a problem with talking - I'm just pleasantly surprised so many would want to listen ;)

Seven ratings and three reviews on iTunes - solid 5 stars but we would love to see more reviews. What are we doing right and where can we improve?

Tell us on iTunes. Tell us here at The Tavern. Let us know on G+. We really do thrive on feedback.

+Vincent Florio +Glen Hallstrom

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Wayward Kickstarter - Creatures CG (I'm Having a WTF Moment)

Lets see, what can we say about the Creatures CG?

It's "an RPG style Card Game for 2-4 players"

That's it.

No sample art, sample text or hints at game play.

No rough layout of the cards.

A whole lot of nothing.

Even better, the rewards allow you to name creatures to be included in the set but doesn't include a level where the actual game is a reward.

I'm guessing 75 creatures or so for the deck, but that is only based on backer levels

Even better, Chris H's previous failed Kickstarter? A Chocolate Cookbook where you could submit an ingredient with a 5 dollar pledge. His goal? 2k - he raised 5 bucks. I'm guessing the ingredient suggested was a whole lot of nothing...

Hat tip to +Keith J Davies

Bruce Heard's World of Calidar - Quick Peek

This post is way overdue. +Bruce Heard was kind enough to to mail me the actual print copies of the World of Calidar maps as well as the PDF for the sourcebook back in the early fall.  We are now in early winter, so yes, I'm pretty backed up.

First off, the maps themselves are gorgeous. They are probably barely outdone by the Whisper & Venom maps, but then again, they are done in a different style and are for different use. In any case, they are too big for me to take a pic of and I've yet to convince Rachel to allow me to paper the walls of the double bedroom (we have two rooms joined by an arch - one for sleeping, one for my desk and our clothes and such) with gaming maps. I'm working hard on it tho' , and with Danke's Christmas Remolding and wallpaper removal trick she taught herself, I may just have gotten a little closer, but I digress.

Spelljammer was probably one of my underused 2e game settings, but not because of lack of desire on my end. I wanted to run with but my group never complied, even when I had them find their own Spelljammer. Ah well, there is always tomorrow.

If Spelljammer has a fault, it was that it was shoehorned into the existed AD&D continuity. That is not an issue with Calidar, which is designed from the ground up as a setting with airships traveling between worlds.

As an aside, if you enjoyed the Voyages of the Princess Ark series of articles / fiction from Dragon Magazine, much of the some feeling is found in the World of Calidar. Personally, for me the series of articles was my gateway to Mystara, if only because Bruce was connected to both projects. Sadly, after all these years my memory is a bit fuzzy. I may need to reread the series at some point.

One of the more surprising aspects about the Calidar, In Stranger Skies is that it is system neutral (don't let the Pathfinder label fool you). Sure, it has Pathfinder stats for the characters, but that can easily be hand waved and converted to OSR stats without too much trouble, although in the case of the spells memorized there might be some work needed. If I can squeeze the time out of the rock that is my free time, I may do some conversions of such to Swords & Wizardry here at The Tavern. Don't expect exact conversions if I do make the attempt, as downsizing from 3x / Pathfinder to older editions is more art than science ;)

I'm about halfway through the first part of the Calidar PDF, and the fiction is spot on. If you are to learn of a setting through the eyes of those living it, this is the way. I would like to see an abbreviated version that could serve as a player handbook of sorts, as this is a rich setting and I would rather run it with my players grounded in the common knowledge (but without all the DM secrets.)

Oh, remember all my bitching about the Numenera PDF and being damn near unreadable with my aging eyes? Not a problem with Calidar, In Stranger Skies. Although the pages of the PDF have that faux weathered look, there is nothing obstructing the actual text. Heck, it's nicely readable on my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phone, which is good, as I return to work tomorrow. No, I won't be reading at my desk - unless I'm on lunch ;)

Full review when I finish digesting the PDF. I must day I am enjoying the lack of distracting game stats thus far.

Just think, the NFL season will be coming to a close soon and I'll have my Sunday's back...

Kickstarter - The Folio 1E Module Relaunch! (OSR Adventure)

The Folio is something that escaped my radar up until now (thanks to Scott for brining this to my attention.) It's the relaunch of a 5e adventure subscription Kickstarter, retuned with a lower goal and rewritten for 1e and without a subscription.

$15 (includes shipping with the US) for a 30 page or so adventure with high end art and removable cover (just like the olde style adventures from TSR.) $5 for the PDF (print included the PDF.)

So, what do you get for your money?
My Project: The Folio is a 1st Edition gaming module. It will be produced as an 8x11”, removable cover [11x17" once removed], adventure with mostly b/w interior artwork.  The final size is 30 pages of content. 
Who’s it for? ALL gamers, both new gamers and old gamers as it is easily expandable or playable as is.The concept is to allow gamers a starting point for adventure that can be modified to their liking while providing excellent reference content and framework.The base mechanic will be for 1st Edition, but I’ve designed it to be readily modified to any fantasy game. 
What’s in it? All original content. It h as been written by myself and my OSR compatriot Mark Timm, with incredible cover art from old school masters and interior artwork by skilled black and white illustrators Travis Hanson and Michael Wilson, and even a bit of Jim Holloway because I can never get enough Holloway. We are intent on providing a polished and modern design with creatively nostalgic content that transcends a particular age. The Folio will contain a 3-D map, a Gazetteer, a monster section, a new monster unique to the setting, DM’s notes and guides, and a full adventure. 
They'll even through in a PDF of the 5e version if you ask for it.

It's also a Kickstarter Staff Pick, whatever that means.

In any case, I'm in for $15. Still has 7 days left to reach it's funding. I suspect it will.

Wasting Time with Frozen Food Reviews on Youtube? There Must be Some RPG reviews Floating Around...

No game this week, so instead of doing useful things, I'm watching episodes of Freezer Burns on my computer as my wife does some online certification for her job on her computer.

Does anyone know of  a series of YouTube videos that spend about 5 minutes or so per episode reviewing RPGs?

I find that my attention span for YouTube videos is in the 5 to 10 minutes mark - anything longer than that and my attention wanders.

Crap, I need to get back to my own series of OSR reviews, don't I?

Alright, no rest for the wicked. Let me work on some OSR for the Lapsed Gamer next...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wayward Kickstarter - Rpg modular tiles (2.5d tiles or something)

See the above? That is the only pic associated with the RPG modular tiles Kickstarter.

Where's the pics of the modular tiles? Damned if I know. I guess folks have to pony up $5,500 Canadian to find out. Or not. 3 days to go, 0 backers, 0 monies raised.

I can, however, give you the total text of the Kickstarter below:

Typos, poor grammar and general useless description aside (small rooms will be 9 to 18 square inches - that's one hell of a range) the one thing folks will want to see is actual samples. I assume there are none, as the $5,500 is probably to buy the 3d printer - or is it a 2.5d printer. I literally have no idea, as there is no indication as to what the $5,500 is for. Nor do i care.

I am impressed that the project creator played, or at least owns, or possible owns, or at least know about the Palladium RPG. Now, knowing how Kevin is, did he get permission to use the image to hock his product?

The Dragon Issue #22 - Gary's Vision of the Computerization of D&D

There is something special about issue #22 of The Dragon. Maybe it's the preview of the DMG that's included. It could be some of the opinionated reviews Gary gives of competing periodicals (if you think I trash "wayward Kickstarters" hard you aint seen nothing). Tonight's post is instead about Gary's vision from 35 years ago as concerns computers and D&D.
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS can be played on a computer. Computers are most certainly a big aspect of the near future, particularly the home computer. Non-programmable computer games are already making big inroads into the toy and hobby market. They will grow still more, and soon programmable games will join this trend. D&D program cassettes plugged into a home computer would obviate the need for a DM or other players. Thus the labor of setting up a campaign or the necessity of having a fairly large group to play in it would be removed. The graphic display would be exciting, and the computer would slave away doing all of the record work and mechanics necessary to the game, giving nearly instantaneous results to the player or players. Computerization of D&D has many other benefits also, and such games would not destroy the human-run campaign but supplement game participation. This is the direction we hope to make available to D&D. Let’s see if my foresight is as keen as my hindsight.
Now, I was a huge fan of the Gold Box D&D games on the Commodore 64. Well, except for Hillsfar or whatever it was. The games that was not a game, but I digress. They did not, howerver, replace gaming with a true gaming group.

To be honest, I don't think that 35 years later we are even near the point that a true RPG can be run without a human behind the DM Screen (literal, virtual or otherwise). Computer can deal with preprogramed options. Players seem to always find the choices in between. As much as I like Oblivion, Fallout, Dragon Age and the rest, they are RPGs in name only

Players also like rolling their own dice, for real or virtually, but the idea of computerized game aids has come far. They don't replace the DM, but make his job easier.

So, how was Gary's vision on the future? I think he did fairly well, even if he thought the benefits would arrive sooner than they did.

In any case, I do have 2 copies of this particular issue of The Dragon. It will be gifted in an upcoming OSR Christmas 2014 giveaway ;)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Falling Skies - Damn, if This Doesn't Look to be an Excellent RPG Setting

I'm really enjoying Falling Skies, even if I'm only watching the first season thanks to Amazon Prime.

The whole alien invasion and fighting back against insurmountable odds.

I'm figuring Savage Worlds, but I'm more comfortable with OSR variants. Maybe one of +Kevin Crawford 's rulesets.

Anyone else have similar thoughts?

Day 6, 7 and 8 Gifts are Given

and now it is time to award a plethora of bountiful gifts :)

Here are the OSR Christmas Day 6 Giveaways:

Billy's Books and More (Amazon and Ebay) is gifting a Basic Fantasy RPG Print Bundle. This is US only. It includes the BFRPG Core Book, Morgansfort, Monkey Island, Chaotic Caves and the Fortress, Tomb and Tower Adventure Anthology - the gift bundle goes to +Andrew Byers 

+matt jackson is donating two print copies (US Only) of the elite and very rare A Collection of Presentations, Cartographical in Nature. - the gifts go to Keith Nelson and +Peter V. Dell'Orto 

Folks named above, I'll need your mailing addresses emailed to tenkarsDOTtavernATgmailDOTcom. Put DAY 6 in the suject line.

5 winners, each getting complete set of InfiniBadger Press goodies in PDF (thanks to +Jason Paul McCartan and InfiniBadger Press) - the following need to email me their email addies - +Todd McGowan , +Brett Slocum , +Keith Sloan , Scott Swift and +Will Tijerina  - DAY 7 in the subject heading

Dyson's Delves, Volumes 1 & 2, as a set, going to the following 2 lucky gift receivers - Traveling Spellbook and Imredave - I need snail mail addresses for you to - my email is up above - DA* 8 in the subject heading.

Of Dachshund Remolding Projects and Other Vacation Activities

So, my vacation is coming to a close in a few days. While I've accomplished much of what was needed around the house in the terms of projects and chores, I've been distracted in a large part from accomplishing what I had planned on the blog side.

Days 7 and 8 of OSR Christmas are closed to comments. Days 6, 7 and 8 gifts will be announced tonight. One uber post. Lots of gifts in the mix.

As an aide, Danke the Dachshund Puppy tried a little remodeling on Christmas Eve, as she was unable to participate in the festivities downstairs. I wonder what the paper was from when i opened the door later that night, fearing one of my gaming books had been turned into a chew toy, but alas, that was not to be the case. Instead, the little darling went to work n some wallpaper. Sigh.

My awesome wife did very well in the gifting department with me BTW. An excellenthigh end Keurig, which will never brew a cup of coffee but makes some awesome teas (about the only thing that comes close to a good beer in my eyes is a good tea.) I also got Ticket to Ride European version and the Rivals of Catan card game.

Haven't even looked at the latest Dragon Age game that came for my PS4 about 2 weeks ago, and as the PS Network is offline right now due to hacking, I guess the point is moot ;)

After Hours - The Festival of Festivus and Other Fine Holidays

We had a blast recording episode 25 of The Brainstorm Podcast. Perfect episode to discuss Holidays in RPGs.

I think one aspect we missed addressing, probably because it is obvious to many folks, is that the work "holiday" has it's roots in "Holy Day". Sure, most holidays in fantasy games are going to be rooted in religion, but many times the trappings will obscure the true meaning of the holiday.

I'd like to see a holiday in game where it's evil roots are hidden by the celebrations, festivities and general excitement of the holiday. The town no longer remembers the roots of the holiday, which were to celebrate the power of Iuz (or some other evil god or power.) This year, the party stumbles into the festivities when the celebrations start having supernatural effects - blood dripping trees, fruit that has miniature fetuses inside the skin and other signs. The town folks  think they are doing something wrong - little do they know they are doing everything perfectly right ;)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sometimes You Get the Perfect Gift - I May Need to buy These in Bulk :)

My sister did very well in her gift giving this year, as you can see above ;)

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and simply joyous times to all those that frequent The Tavern.

Many blessing upon you and your families.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

OSR Christmas - Day 8 - Delve Twice Times Two, Won't You? (Print - International)

Day 8 of OSR Christmas is special, and is running concurrently with Day 7.

+Dyson Logos is giving away two sets of Dyson's Delves in print to anywhere in the world, although I suspect if you are in some Antarctic Outpost you may be waiting a while for delivery.

So, that's Dyson's Delves, Volumes 1 & 2, as a set, going to 2 lucky gift receivers.


Now, you know what to do, right?

Add a comment to this post and sometime after noon on December 26th two random commenters will be drawn to receive the above gifts.

OSR Christmas 2014 -Day 7 - Don't Bear a Grudge to the Caves of Ortok, or Noh-Cha will strike you with Another Bunch of Content (PDF International)

Here are the OSR Christmas Day 7 Giveaways:

- A PDF copy of The Caves of Ortok (choose between LL, S&W, or OSRIC)

- A PDF copy of Bearing A Grudge (choose between LL, S&W, or OSRIC)

- A PDF copy of the Noh-Cha Classbook

- A sub to Issues 1-6 of Another Bunch of Content in PDF (the above donated by Infinibadger Press +Jason Paul McCartan )

Edit: 5 winners, each getting all of the above! Woot! to +Jason Paul McCartan and InfiniBadger Press!

This post will be open until December 26th at noon NYC time. Add a comment here to enter. Open to all

Frog God Games is Running a 30% off Sale Site Wide until Friday

I'll post other Christmas Sales as I come across them ;)

Here's the link to the Frog God Website.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wayward Kickstarter - Codename: Morningstar - "not pledging is telling the industry that you are happy with the status quo."

Copper plated? I mean, not even solid copper?
If you are going to plate, as least go silver...

I'm really not in a good mood tonight, so the quote in the post title generates one response from me:

Trapdoor Technologies - Fuck you!

Who the bloody fuck are you to guilt anyone into backing your failure of a product? I call it a failure, with all due respect, as WotC apparently preferred to lose the money already invested in Codename: Morningstar rather than put even more good money after bad.

Not pledging says a lot of things. Let me count the ways:

1 - I don't play Pathfinder, so this shit is worthless.

2 - We apparently have different definitions of "grognard."

3 - Maybe I don't have a use for a tablet at my gametable.

4 - Maybe I don't have a regular gametable, but use a VTT.

5 - Maybe I've never spent a fucking hour looking up rules - before, during or after games.

- let me insert the following thanks to Midwest_Gamer: "Tenkar's Corollary:"

"Wrong ruling plus pacing plus immersion plus fun, is infinitely better than right ruling minus pacing minus immersion plus frustration."

6 - $1.2 million already spent. Looking to raise $425k from the Kickstarter -

7 - A staff of 16 - Does Paizo even employ that many?

8 - Maybe I don't have the 50 bucks to spend, or would rather spend it some other way.

9 - Arrogance is priceless. It's also a turnoff.

10 - The less referencing rules at the table, the better. This looks like more rules, all the time.

11 - From what I've read, the Beta was abysmal. Not a selling point.

12 - Ever hear of "stretch goals?"

13 - Doesn't Pathfinder have other computer aids that do much of the same?

ENWorld has an active thread on the subject

Catching Up Aint Hard to Do - I Hope - Mythoard, Day 4 Winners, Emails, Messages and more!

I'm FINALLY finding time to do catch up, here at The Tavern, my emails, my G+ messages, my projects around the house and more. It didn't hurt that today is day 5 after little Danke's surgery, and her long snout seems to peek out from any Cone of Shame you put on here. Part of my duties have been to ensure she licks her wound as little as possible. Notice I didn't say prevent - IO gave up on that last night ;)

(picture "borrowed" from +Tony T ;)

I got my Mythoard envelope on Saturday. I'm also one of those Lott Crate fans. Not idea why. haven't found a use for anything but I still find it cool. Kinda like a monthly Christmas present for adults, and in general, you know you won't be getting socks. Mythoard has no socks - it has gaming goodness. Where / when do I sign up for this to arrive monthly? Never mind, it's at the Mythoard website. Dec 29th for open sign ups. Dec 26th for those that did the "beta." Woot! Christmas once a month is in my grasp!

I just, as in minutes ago, finally forwarded the addresses for the Day 4 gift receivers. Still waiting on darthbrooks. Yeah, it's been that kind of a month for me. I'll be forwarding Day 5 info tonight.

I can't even begin to tell you how many emails and G+ messages I need to catch up on as it's beyond my ability to count. Lots. If you feel I've been ignoring you, I haven't. Playing catch up today and tomorrow. Hopefully I get there.

Tonight we record more of The Brainstorm Podcast.

Busy busy. Just made room for the cat's pan near my desk and out of the living room. Ashley is happy, my wife will be thrilled. Myself? Less so ;)

Monday, December 22, 2014

OSR Christmas 2014 - Day 6 - Fantasy is Basically a Collection of Cartographical Presentations

I am still majorly out of sorts (as is my stomach - never fails - go on vacation, get sick.)

Here are the OSR Christmas Day 6 Giveaways:

Billy's Books and More (Amazon and Ebay) is gifting a Basic Fantasy RPG Print Bundle. This is US only. It includes the BFRPG Core Book, Morgansfort, Monkey Island, Chaotic Caves and the Fortress, Tomb and Tower Adventure Anthology

+matt jackson is donating two print copies (US Only) of the elite and very rare A Collection of Presentations, Cartographical in Nature.

This post will be open until December 24th at noon NYC time. Add a comment here to enter. US shipping only.

The plan on December 24th is to put up TWO DAYs of Christmas goodies, one international and one US only. Lets see how well this plan comes together ;)

Hitting the Reset Button - Current Tavern Plans for Christmas Week

The events of this past weekend really took the wind out of my sails. Time to hit the reset button and see where we are at.

OSR Christmas Day 6 should get posted tonight. Perhaps his afternoon. We'll see what state I'm in after I share some adult beverages with my bartender who is an NYPD vet from the 70's and 80's, when police across the US were being ambushed and killed. Knowing history is always the best way to avoid repeating it.

I'll finish off forwarding the gift receivers info from Days 4 and 5 later today.

As for the rest of the week?

Gaming posts, pure and simple.

More OSR for the Lapsed Gamer, more reviews, more thoughts - quite simply, a whole lot of more.

Keep on keeping on. It's what we do.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

No Gaming Post Today - Mourning the Loss of Two Fine Officers

It's rare that I step away from gaming over here at The Tavern. This is a roleplaying blog, and the posts obviously reflect that. I make an exception yearly for 9-11. Today is going to be one of those rare exceptions.

Yesterday two officers of the NYPD were executed in their patrol car. We almost lost a third officer last night when a perp put a gun in an officer's face but the firearm was empty of rounds, as the perp had just tried shooting at someone else (the reason the cops responded.)

My mind is far from games and gaming at the moment.

My thoughts and prayers are with officers Liu and Ramos and their families.

My fear is this is just the beginning.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Carl Sargent - Whatever Happened to the Man that last Defined Greyhawk 2e?

The great +Joe D asked the following question during tonight's game session:

What ever happened to Carl Sargent, the man who defined Greyhawk for AD&D 2e?

So, does anyone know?

After Hours - Prepping To Run a Game at a Convention (or any one-shot really)

Convention gaming is very much NOT like gaming with your home or regular group. While open ended sandbox styled gameplay is my favorite style at home, for convention play, you generally do need some rails to keep the session on track.

While I'm the only one of the three hosts on The Brainstorm Podcast that hasn't run a convention game, I've played in my share. Successful convention games generally have a few features in common, at least as far as I'm concerned:

- A knowledgeable GM - Know thy system. There is a good chance that you may be running a game where one or more of the players art your table don't know the system well, or even at all. If the GM is constantly referring to the rules pacing will be lost.

- Pacing - Remember, convention games have a limited amount of time slotted to them. While you don't want to end the session to early, running late will either leave you and your players with an unfinished session or have you running into someone else's game time.

- Prep beforehand - pregen characters, handouts, battlemat - whatever - all should be waiting for the players as they arrive at your table. Otherwise you are losing potential gameplay time.

- Playtest - this goes hand in hand with knowledge, pacing and prep. Playtest the adventure with once, or preferably twice. Doesn't matter if it's commercial or homebrewed. It will give you an estimate of how long it will run for and help you figure out where to cut or add to if needed.

Happy Jacks has mentioned con prep in the past on various episodes. You could probably have someone on their forums track down the relevant episodes for you. Just ignore the belching ;)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Win Some free Crawl! That's NOT Part of OSR Christmas ;)

Head over to the Channel Zero blog and win some cool Crawl! swag. +Ryan Moore is giving away print copies of Crawl! 5, 6, 7 and 9 to 4 luck winners (to be picked on December 23. +Dak Ultimak will be adding PDF copies for the luck winners.

What are you waiting for? Tell Ryan "The Tavern" sent ya! ;)

Casting Times - A Segment on Segments in 1e

I remember using "segments" in AD&D combat rounds, especially as it came to casting times. I don't remember if we ever used it right, but if you are going to use spell interruption in your campaign, it's kinda necessary.

I also remember that we slowly forgot to use casting times, and when we put that to the side, segments transformed into initiative order and little more. Of course, as casting times went to the side, so did casters loosing spells to interruption. I'm sure it change the game balance, but we didnt care, as it sped up play.

It went both ways. Getting the drop on an enemy caster was no longer as effective, as his spells were no longer getting interrupted either.

Maybe it was one of out earlier house rules, along with ignoring weapon speeds (as we could never make hide nor hair of it, and we tried) and weapon vs armor type adjustments (because we wanted it to apply to monsters and humanoids too, but as written it didnt.)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Soon We Will be Back on Pace - OSR Christmas, OSR For the Lapsed Gamer and More

Left for work at 530 AM. It's a bit after 8PM and I just got home. It's been that kind of a month. I've fallen behind on lots of planned stuff, but I'm on vacation for a week starting whenever I get home tomorrow, so yes, there will be some catching up to do.

There should be a bunch of gifts for OSR Christmas going up tomorrow night. I'm thinking PRINT and INTERNATIONAL shipping. That is, of course, assuming I get home at a reasonable time. If not, Saturday morning. I expect the pace of the posts to pick up.

I'll be getting back to the OSR for the Lapsed Gamer series of posts this weekend too. I've been away for it for too long, so time to pick up where we left off.

Other stuff too. I got's plans, I just need some down time to do them ;)

Weapon Damage Vs Size - Do You Use It?

I was introduced to role playing games with AD&D 1e and weapon damage vs size was my baseline. Now that I'm playing and running clones for the most part, I appreciate the lack of a single die type regardless of monster size.

Still, I do remember the damage charts for a good 80% of the weapons from 1e. Many of them didn't make much sense to me (such as broadsword) but we didn't stress it back in the day. After all, it was canon ;)

Do you use weapon damage vs size these days?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

OSR Christmas 2014 - Day 5 - The Loot!

It is (finally) time to find out the lucky readers that will be receiving the OSR Christmas 2014 Day 5 Gifts. We'll see how interesting events are in the City That Never Sleeps next this and if I can get   back on something that resembles a schedule ;)

(I've managed to work 30 hrs of overtime this month so far without even trying...)

Without further delay, lets get the goodies awarded...
The first bundle is a set of Dyson's Delves Volumes 1 and 2 donated by +Tony T (there will be more Dyson's Delves given away on a later day.) +Nathan Panke , you are the lucky gift receiver

The second bundle is a set of five miniatures donated by +Boric Glanduum  - a human cleric with a tome on a stand and 4 male elves in heavy plate and big ass swords. William Dowie, you are the lucky gift receiver

The above need to email me at tenkarsDOTtavernATgmailDOTcom with DAY 5 GIFT in the subject. Provide me with the mailing address you want this sent to and I'll forward it to the awesome gift giver.

Day 4 gifts will have the gifter notified tomorrow. There was a straggler from an earlier day who needs to have his gifter notified. Trying to find those moments of in between time to do so. 

Dumping on Dump Stats or Have Followers but No Charisma - Do You Have a Favorite Dump Stat and Why?

From what I've seen during my 35 years of gaming, Charisma seems to be "the" dump stat of the various D&D editions. I never fully understood why, as Wisdom and Intelligence can serve the same purpose for most non spell casters without giving you a negative reaction adjustment. Or maybe I understand why, but don't agree with the "why."

Wait, your DM doesn't take Charisma into account for reaction rolls? Heck, he doesn't even bother with reaction rolls? Yep, that's how we were as teens - Charisma adjustments got handwaved and therefore Charisma become the dump stat.

High intelligence gives extra languages, high Wisdom gives a bonus for certain spell saves (at least in AD&D) but if you are ignoring Charisma adjustments to reaction, loyalty and even more importantly - maximum number of followers, you're playing it wrong (IMHO - your opinion may differ. No opinions were harmed in the writing of this post. Lack of sleep due to overtime and puppy power may have influenced this post. Don't post and drive.)

One of my favorite characters had a 5 intelligence and 7 wisdom with decent combat stats and a 13 for charisma. Of course, I named him Gru and he had a fondness for cheese dip...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Kickstarters Arrive - Metamorphosis Alpha and Barrowmaze Complete

Found these waiting for me when i got home from my extended tour at work. Technically it's a Kickstarter (Metamorphosis Alpha) and Indigogo (Barrowmaze Complete) that completed well, but who's counting?

Love the cover for Barrowmaze and my God, Metamorphosis Alpha is huge.

These did not make my Wayward Kickstarter list, as linked to on the EN World10 Biggest Tabletop RPG News Stories of 2014 list.

OSR Christmas Day 5 remains open BTW - I'll award prizes tomorrow night. I just tallied up the overtime numbers thru the first half of the month - 30 hrs thus far... sleep calls...

After Hours - Embracing Lycanthropy - Following Up on The Brainstorm Podcast Episode 22

On yesterday's episode of The Brainstorm Podcast, we answered a letter from a DM that wanted a way to cure two of his players of wererat lycanthropy. True to my nature, I argued that instead of trying to get rid of the "curse", the DM and the players should embrace it. Let's put aside that two of the players are age 5 and 6 for the moment ;)

First, don't introduce ANYTHING into your campaign that you aren't ready and willing to deal with for the long haul. Magic items, unbalanced PCs or NPCs, curses, whatever - don't introduce it if you aren't ready to deal with it. Players rarely do what is expected, and the item or whatnot that you expected to be short lived may become a permanent feature.

Second, as I mentioned in the podcast, cursed characters generally do not want to be uncursed. Lycanthropy may or may not be a curse, but as it involves an alignment change for the most part, it is safe to assume that the character (if not the player) is embracing the change.

Player characters ARE the exception to the rules. If a player becomes a lycanthrope, I'd allow a one degree change on the alignment axis (assuming a 9 axis alignment system) in the direction of a player's choice. So, a Lawful Evil lycanthrope, as a PC, could be Neutral Evil or Lawful Neutral.

(After Hours posts are expansions and follow ups to thoughts and ideas mentioned on The Brainstorm Podcast - Join +Vincent Florio , +Glen Hallstrom and myself twice a week, thirty minutes or less at a time)

Monday, December 15, 2014

OSR Christmas 2014 - Day 5 - Miniature Delvers in Two Volumes (US Shipping Only)

Alright, we have two bundles up for grabs.

The first bundle is a set of Dyson's Delves Volumes 1 and 2 donated by +Tony T (there will be more Dyson's Delves given away on a later day.)

The second bundle is a set of five miniatures donated by +Boric Glanduum  - a human cleric with a tome on a stand and 4 male elves in heavy plate and big ass swords.

Now, you know what to do, right?

Add a comment to this post and sometime after 800 PM tomorrow night (NYC Time) two random commenters will be drawn to receive the above gifts.

Current events in NYC may delay me, so this post may remain open longer than expected, but don't delay - comment now!

(these gifts are only shipping to US mailing addresses)

I'll be sending out the mailing addresses to the Day 4 gift receivers to the donor tomorrow - so if you haven't emailed me yet, please do so.

Potions - Labeled or Not?

When a potion is found in your campaigns, are the bottles labeled as the the contents (accurate or otherwise)? Are there common symbols use for healing, invisibility and the like? Do all healing potions have the same color (and can the experienced alchemist identify potions by color and or smell alone?)

I'm always on the fence as to whether or not the party should be able to quickly ID the more common potions they find in their adventures.

How do you handle potions?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

So, What Comes First? The Character Concept or the Characteristics

I had some idle thoughts last night as our weekly game was canceled, and I thought about how I decide upon the type of character I want to play. Depending on the campaign, I can go can go either way - character concept first or characteristics / stats / abilities.

In our current campaign (AD&D 1e) I decided to go with a Bard (Dragon issue #56 version) before rolling the stats. As a party we had most of the niches covered and I really do have a weekness for bards.

At NTRPGCon, in +Matt Finch 's S&W game, I rolled my 3d6 in order before deciding to be a fighter. The fact that I had rolled a natural 18 for strength had (almost) nothing to do with it ;)

In general, I'm the type of player that tries to fill a roll need by the party before worrying about that I want to play, as I enjoy playing most character types and classes.

Do you roll you abilities first and than decide upon a class or do you have a class in mind and arrange the rolls to fit the character?

"After Hours" Will be the Place to Be for Expanded Thoughts from The Brainstorm Podcast

Looks like I'm holding on to the $10 RPGNow Gift Certificate for just a little  longer, as my wife just came up with the post title / theme I was looking for - "After Hours". Keeps the Tavern theme going as well as hints at after thoughts from The Brainstorm Podcast. I may go back and do post for previous episodes too.

Don't worry about missing out on the 10 bucks - it will be added to the OSR Christmas 2014 prize pool.

Day 5 of OSR Christmas 2014 will go up tomorrow. Every other day is a pace I am finding impossible to keep up with or even come close to this December

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Time to Brainstorm an Overall Post Title For a Series of Posts that Serve as Follow Ups and Expansions to Brainstorm Podcast Episodes

Damn, that is a horribly long post title, aint it?

This morning I made a post that followed up on and expanded upon the episode of The Brainstorm Podcast that was released last night. The post has been fairly well received and I enjoyed writing it so I'd like to make it an ongoing series of post. So, we need a label. Or a theme.

I've come up with Brain Drippings and Late Thoughts. Not sure if either really hits the bell.

Here's what I'm doing.

Open call.

Give me some ideas as comments to this post. If I decide to go with one of the suggestions, I'll send the commenter in question a $10 RPGNow Gift Certificate. If I choose none of the suggestions, I keep the GC - so make some good suggestions ;)

I'll leave this open until 6PM tomorrow night (Dec 14th)

Yes, you can make more than one suggestion...

After Hours - Whereupon We Discussed Some Dungeon Master Tips and I Make Some Expanded Observations - Brainstorm Podcast #21

It's funny. When +Vincent Florio , +Glen Hallstrom and I go through prepping for the next episode of The Brainstorm Podcast, I probably do less prep than the other two do. Or at least, less written down prep.

My commutes to and from work are usually filled with listening to assorted gaming podcasts and thinking gaming thoughts. When it comes to prepping for the next podcast, I spend part of that commuting time brainstorming ideas and answers to the next topic we will be discussing.

I use much the same process when I prep for a sandbox styled game session. The  main difference is, after the brainstorming for a game session. I write more than just a few words down jar the memory - I go with a sentence or two - sometimes even more, as I may be doing this a week or more in advance. For podcast prep, much of it is done the same day, so the thoughts are fresh and don't need much to jar them lose.

While I like the idea of a "DM's Binder", I couldn't even keep colored index cards in any semblance of order. These days I use a 5x8 notebook in chronological order - doesn't matter whether I'm DMing or running a PC, my notes go in chronological order. Yeah, maybe my advice isn't the advice to follow... heh.

I always go for rulings over rules to keep the session's pace moving. Nothing sucks more than a 10 minute library search to look up some obscure rule. Wrong ruling plus pacing plus immersion plus fun is infinitely better than right ruling minus pacing minus immersion plus frustration.

(as future episodes of The Brainstorm Podcast are released I'll be expanding upon my thoughts in a series of posts here at The Tavern)

Friday, December 12, 2014

OSR Christmas 2014 - Day 4 - The Loot!

It is (finally) time to find out the lucky readers that will be receiving the OSR Christmas 2014 Day 4 Gifts. We'll see how interesting events are in the City That Never Sleeps next week and if I can get OSR Christmas 2014 back on something that resembles a schedule ;)

Without further delay, lets get the goodies awarded...

The following are six print bundles donated by Keith N. Three are for Swords & Wizardry, one is for DCC RPG and the last two are Necromancer Games d20 bundles.

1)  Set of Swords and Wizardry card decks - Monster, Spell, Hireling, and Equipment decks - this gift goes to - Stephen Lawrence

2)  Swords and Wizardry Monstrosities hardcover - this gift goes to -  Kevin Searle

3)  Swords & Wizardry adventures - Grimmsgate, MCMLXXV, and Strange Bedfellows - this gift goes to -  Peter V. Dell'Orto

4)  DCC adventure - Sailors on the Starless Sea (technically not a bundle, awesome adventure in any case) - this gift goes to -  Ned Leffingwell

5)  Necromancer Games d20 adventures - The Six Spheres of Zaihhess, The Coils of Set, Vindication - this gift goes to -  darthbrooks

6)  Necromancer Games d20 supplements - Tome of Horrors III hardcover; Unusual Suspects NPC Gallery - this gift goes to -  Johua De Santo

The above need to email me at tenkarsDOTtavernATgmailDOTcom with DAY 4 GIFT in the subject. Provide me with the mailing address you want this sent to and I'll forward it to the awesome gift giver.

Free Adventure - The Tower of Bells (Frog God - S&W / Pathfinder)

 The Tower of Bells is a sneak peek of the forthcoming Sword of Air adventure compilation,

Thursday, December 11, 2014

If OneBookShelf Banned a Game, What Would the Potential Fallout Be?

(it is nearly 830 PM - I just had dinner and I'm ready to fall asleep - OSR Christmas Day 4 remains open at least until tomorrow morning - overtime 5 out of 6 days is wearing on me)

So, if OBS banned a +James Desborough Gamergate Game, based in part on a threat by Evil Hat to pull their releases from OBS, would anyone care?

It's drama for the sake of drama, which both James and Fred are good at, but banning the game is NOT the way to handle it. The market polices itself. All the banning did was polarize fans and publishers.

OBS seems to know this but doesn't really seem to know how to fix it.

Here's the letter OBS sent to publishers (and thanks to the anon reader that sent it to me)

Dear Publishers,

We elected to ban a title from our marketplaces. Of the tens of thousands of titles that we carry, and after operating for 13 years, we have never before banned a title (other than for
legal reasons). I hope those numbers make it clear this is not an action we have
undertaken lightly, nor is it one we will undertake frequently, if ever again.
Nonetheless, as this is the first time we’ve decided to ban a title, I
thought a letter of explanation was in order.

The title in question is a card game whose theme is the Gamergate issue. The game attempted to present the issue in a satirical manner.

Normally, satirical works would be welcome on our marketplaces.
However, we feel that there are situations where satire is inappropriate. For
example, we do not think that a game released today that satirizes police
killings of minorities in the USA would be appropriate. Regardless of how one
feels about an issue like that, we feel that it is too current, too emotionally
charged on both sides, and too related to real-world violence or death to make
it an appropriate matter for satire.

Similarly, no matter how one feels about Gamergate, it is likewise too current, too emotionally frought, and too related to violence to be an appropriate subject for satire. Additionally, we considered that the violent element of the Gamergate issue has a basis in misogyny. For
these reasons, we felt that this card game title was not welcome for sale on our

Note too that this is a card game, not a roleplaying game. Some may feel that if we
were to ban an RPG from our marketplaces, that action would levy a significant
economic penalty on that title since we have a long reach in the overall RPG
market. This is not true of card games, where OneBookShelf is currently a tiny
corner of the card game market. Our not carrying a card game should have minimal
impact on that card game’s economic viability.

While we also considered the customer complaints on both sides of this issue (we are a business, after all, and we cannot ignore customer complaints and survive), these were not a major factor in
our decision. Not surprisingly, given the gaming fanbase, many of the complaints
we received were intelligently written and provided us with additional,
thoughtful perspectives on the issue. Unfortunately, most customers were not in
a position to review the content of the title itself and were therefore forced
to be “judging a book by its cover” only.

Some publishers also complained about this title, and a few publishers let us know they would not be interested in continuing to work with us if we carried it on our store. We will not allow any
publisher to dictate content policy onto any other publisher, explicitly or
implicitly. If any publisher ever decides to discontinue business with us
because our content policy errs to the side of being too open, rather than
restrictive, then we will respect their decision to leave our marketplaces and
wish them well. To be clear, no publishers’ comments had any bearing on
our decision to discontinue selling this title.

Having now banned a title for the first time, we asked ourselves if we needed to establish any explicit policy for banning of future titles for reasons other than legality or production quality.
Given that this is the first time such a thing has happened in 13 years, and
given the difficulty of defining policies of this nature, we elected not to
invest the time in creating a policy that would probably end up a poor guideline
anyway. Our time is better spent getting back to retailing your titles to fans.

We carry a lot of titles on our marketplaces that some or all of the members of the
OneBookShelf staff find morally distasteful (and we’re generally a pretty
open-minded lot), but we find anything that smacks of censorship even more
distasteful. We will continue to have a content policy that is more open than
will give many of our publishers and customers comfort.





Normall Grumpy would be inserting all sorts of obnoxious comments, but as he dictates and does not type, that won't be happening tonight.

Alright - discuss. I'm putting my head down and catching some zzzzzzsssss...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Radio Rivendell - Fantasy Music Streamed for Free

I'm going to tip my hat to +Glen Hallstrom . Last night, before we recorded the latest episodes of The Brainstorm Podcast, Glenn mentioned Radio Rivendell. I didn't think much of it at the time, but after we were done for the night I decided to give it a listen.

Very good background music to listen to while surfing the web, blogging or just reading thr latest RPG purchase. Much of it feels Celtic in nature.

All it needs is an android app...

Give it a listen and tell me what you think.

How I Lost a Day and Other Quirks of Christmas Time

So, last week, due to various events here in NYC (primarily protests) I seem to have lost a day. I started work on Thursday at 6 AM and didn't head back home until nearly noon on Friday. Amazing how much that screws with your internal clock.

My weekend was basically a wash too.

What does all this mean? I'm still playing catchup on this end. I need to forward the info for the Day 3 gift receivers on to their respective gift givers. That makes thirteen matches I need to make and send

I need to actually open my Lulu hardcover box of goodness that has been sitting in the living room since Friday.

I probably should flip through the 5e DMG that arrived yesterday, and then there's the small package of goodness from +Lloyd Metcalf that I haven't even unbagged yet.

At least the overtime from last week will take care of paying for the recent gaming purchases and more ;)

We haven't even mentioned the chores around the house that need to get addressed, have we?

What does that mean? OSR Christmas Day 4 will stay open for comments through tomorrow as I play catch up on my end. Besides, the awesome bundles deserve at least 150 comments :)

Does that mean that the Twelve Days of OSR Christmas is going to run through the end of the month and not rap up before Christmas as planned? Shit, when does anything go as planned?

Tenkar's Tavern is supported by various affiliate programs, including Amazon, RPGNow,
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lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

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