Friday, February 28, 2014

Mapping By Numbers - Wherein I Crawl Before I Can Walk

I remember as a kid, I wanted to draw comics. I had no talent for it whatsoever, but my mom bought me tracing paper, and I spent many a weekend tracing panels from Green Lantern and The Justice League (among others). At some point, I got good enough to draw free hand, but it really wasn't drawing. I was tracing from memory. I never took it beyond that point, which is a damn shame.

I look at the maps drawn by the likes of +Dyson Logos and +matt jackson and I see art, not just cool gaming maps. Visions put to paper.

Me, I'm mapping by the numbers right now and probably won't get much beyond that, but I'm comfortable with that. I need the training wheels of graph paper, and if I moved to a larger canvass even with the graph, I'd probably frustrate the shit outa myself before completing the first map.

The thing is, I find mapping, even with training wheels, to be strangely therapeutic. It relaxes me in general, and my mind in particular. Just the act of doing is rewarding - getting a usable map for my campaigns is bonus.

The only question is, do I make these mini maps "geomorphic" in nature, even if only some of them. These two just happened to match up fairly well. Were I to drop in a staircase, it would be on the left map, far right at the intersection.

Yeah, these things seem to have a mind of their own...

Tales of the Fallen Empire in Hand (DCC RPG setting book)

I love it when a Kickstarter arrives at my door :)

Tales From the Fallen Empire is for the DCC RPG (and the first true setting for the game).

That being said, lets see - I could put Thieve's World (layering in Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad) in the Fallen Empire setting, reskin for S&W / Crypts & Things and throw in the mini maps I've been scratching out.

Shit, I've got years worth of gaming here.

Amazing how much I enjoy the accessories (adventures, settings and zines) for the DCC RPG and I just don't enjoy the proliferation of tables in the DCC RPG. Swords & Wizardry is just easier to run without referring back to the rules (although I'd gladly play in either)

As a side note, my only initial complaint with Tales of the Fallen Empire is negated by the fact that I don't pan to use it with DCC - I can't read the spell charts without a magnifier. Shit, my eyes are bad but those tables are horrid. Good thing I can covert those spells to S&W without too much trouble ;)

Nice Mention on the Latest "Roll For Initiative" Podcast Episode

+Vincent Florio and the others at Roll for Initiative gave a nice shout out to the OSR Superstar Competition and this here blog on the latest episode. Now, if I had actually thought about proper promotion of events like this, I would have reached out to Vince weeks in advance, but I never expected this to be all that newsworthy.

Yes, I am well known for underestimating stuff in advance ;)

Most of my favorite RPG podcasts have been slow to update this week - to the point I was actually listening to terrestrial radio on my commute to and from work. Damn depressing - heh.

Forgot to Mention What the Top Vote Getter of the OSR Superstar Competition Gets

As the judges are digging through all of the entries, I thought I should mention the extra bundle that lands in the hands of the number one vote getter of the first round:

Crypts & Things + its two adventures (Blood of the Dragon + Tomb of the Necromancers) as a PDF bundle with thanks to +Newt Newport and d101 games.

I've been sending out copies of Dagger at a snails pace via email but should get through a large number tonight.

The beat goes on ;)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Amateur Night at The Tavern - "Five Rooms, No View"

I really am not good at naming these damn maps, but I did squeeze in five rooms.

I figure marking the secret door on the side that the door is "not" secret makes sense, and would work if one needed to use this with a Virtual Table Top (VTT) like Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds.

I didn't add any extra details like coffins or altars or the like, as I'm going to take the night to try and figure out exactly what is going on.

Damn. I should be taking this little booklet to work with me to play with during my lunch hour.

Search the OSR at "OSR Search"

Need to search the many blogs that make up the OSR? You need go no further than OSR Search.

It really is a nifty tool to search for posts from blogs that are OSR heavy.

Did I just say "nifty?"

Seriously, OSR Search is an often overlooked resource.

I probably should put up a permanent link to it, shouldn't I?

Barrowmaze article over at The Escapist

It never hurts when the OSR gets a bit more exposure.

The Escapist has an article up today on Barrowmaze and our very own +Greg Gillespie .

It's a decent read and a nice synopsis of what the OSR is.

You can read it here.

(lunch is almost over and I need to return to the world of the working ;)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Amateur Night at The Tavern - "Some Guy's Crypt"

I'm not really a mapmaker. Really, I'm not. It's just that the damn kit that +Peter Regan sent me makes me want to draw maps. The small sized paper is a plus for me, as it allows for me to experiment.

My thatching still needs lots of work.

Lets see - two hallways, two rooms, two coffins, one statue, one dais, one single door, one double door and one secret door. Not too shabby for "Some Guy's Crypt" ;)

Quantum - The New Holder of the "Worst RPG Kickstarter" Crown - based on Kickstarters supported by the Tavern

Sure, Far West is by far the most overdue Kickstarter on my list, but I'll give Gareth a pass for legit health reason this time around.

And yes, Dwimmermount has become the poster child of "how not to run a Kickstarter for someone else".

Myth & Magic is certainly the one most likely to ship via imaginary packing slips.

Nystul is still in a world of his own.

But Quantum? Quantum holds a special place in my Kickstarter heart.
Update #82 Sep 29 2013 
Problems and Resolutions

The past nearly two months have been awful. I've struggled mightily to get the final art pieces in, even going so far as to seek additional art help for Hugo with no positive results. I've hesitated to discuss art struggles as my own writing and design struggles have been significant, but I feel all struggling aspects of this game now need to be discussed, not just my own. At this point, I may have to release the book missing some of the monster art and without a poster map. I seriously hope this doesn't happen, but I can't wait for the art any longer. 
Financially, I reached the wall where continuing to work on this game without a paycheck is not possible. I then had to spend time looking for, finding, and then accepting a new part-time job. It's not exactly the sort of job I want to shout to the roof tops, but it pays the bills. It also takes a great deal of time away from what I want to be working on (the game), but after the "busy period" I'm in right now at work ends in a few weeks, things to will settle back down to where I can crush the remaining chapters. 
Colleen is the bright spot in these last two months. She's banging out some amazing layout work despite working a full time job. Her work is amazing and I think you'll be equally impressed. 
My goal right now is to have the entire game out of my meddlesome hands by Turkey Day with the final book, at minimum, released as a PDF by the New Year and well on its way through the printing process with our overseas printers.
We are very close to being done and have unfortunately been very close for a while now. 
I'm back to frequent updates again and I'm sorry for the lack of updates. 
See the date above? September 29, 2013. Nearly 5 months ago. I'm glad Josh returned to something that he considers "frequent updates" or it might have been 6 months since his last update.

Yes Josh, I'll drink my next beer with a toast for you. Amazing job not doing your job without even giving us a stroke job.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Map Doodle - Putting the New Mapping Kit to a Quick Test

Yep. Shit works.

Perfect size for desk doodling at work.

Heck, even Ashley appreciates the sample of my work, even if I can't draw doors for shit ;)

Peter has some stuff up at RPGNow and in dead tree at Squarehex.co.uk

Five Mapping Kits have Arrived from Across the Pond!

+Peter Regan , the Mad Mapper that Maps at Midnight! (not really, but it sounds really cool) shipped a box of mapping awesomeness that was waiting for me when I arrived home from work.
Peter's store is at Squarehex.co.uk

Peter has donated 4 bundles to the 4 finalists of the OSR Superstar Competition and also forwarded me a review copy. Let me just say I'm inspired to start mapping right away, but the size of the pads makes it something I could toy with during my lunch hour.

Each bundle contains the following:
A5 Hex pad (7mm hexes) with Super Hex
A7 Hex pad (7mm hexes) (lunch time sized)
A7 Pad of Geomorphic Intent (7mm grid) (lunch time sized)
Little Hexes mini-campaign setting (a mini sandbox campaign with a fold out map - I need to review this on it's own)
Pocket Guide to Dungeon Geomorphs
7mm plastic card ruler
Hex symbol card
Dungeon symbol card
Dungeon symbol fridge magnet (already stuck to the metal cabinet near my desk)
A7 polyfile wallet
Staedtler black fineliner pen
Papermate mechanical pencil

Any Ever "Split the Stat Bonuses" for Strength and Dexterity?

Strength gives a bonus "to hit" and "to damage".

Dexterity gives a bonus to "AC" and reaction / initiative.

Have you ever split those bonuses, so instead of a Str Bonus of + 3, instead the player has to choose between bonus to hit and / or damage. So, + hit and no bonus to damage or + 2 hit and + 1 damage.

It might need a slight reworking of the spread of the bonus itself. Just an idle thought that occurred to me.

Monday, February 24, 2014

How Important Are Ability Scores?

Sure, much of this depends on the OSR rules of choice, and whether the adjustment spread is -1 to + 1, -3 to + 3, -4 to + 4 or some variation of the preceding. In truth though, what meaning do those adjustments have in the long run?

So long as your character survives, those bonus and penalties have much less meaning as one's character progresses through the levels.

When I was in High School, those numbers were the be all and know all - those old "goldenrods" had ability scores that seemed, in retrospect, to grow on their own. In reality, they were erased and replaced with frequency. I guess, in the long run, it's good that my focus was on DMing.

One of the things that the DCC RPG gets amazingly right, even though it goes against all of my gaming instincts, is the "character funnel". The characters that survive the funnel have special meaning, no matter their actual stats. It's an amazing thing. Yep, I'm a firm believer that the "character funnel" should be liberally borrowed into every other OSR ruleset.

I'm less concerned about ability scores these days. Failure often leads to more exciting stories than success, and no, I'm not talking about "storytelling games". I just think there is as much to be found in the average game session when success comes despite failure.

Still, i think thieving abilities are largely irrelevant at lower levels, but that's a whole 'nother post for a whole 'nother day.

Talking About "Players' Maps"...

I have no idea if this map was the players' map of a homegrown dungeon, a module or something from Dungeon magazine.

I do like the idea that they made notations for the areas to check more thoroughly when there is no where else to go. Apparently they also found the well down.

At least it wasn't one of those dungeons where I filled in every block of the hex paper with dungeon. Because I have those ;)

Games From the Basement - Dark Folk (Mayfair Games)

Back in my early days of gaming, production quality equaled legitimacy on my eyes. Therefore, Mayfair Games "Role Aids" line was in and Judges Guild was out. Very foolish cutting out Judges Guild like that, but I was a teen with limited funds. There was no internet with a quick way to find a review on the next great gaming product - appearance was everything, at least for me.

Dark Folk isn't a bad product at all, although it is a bit inconsistent in quality if memory serves right (the Troll adventure "is designed for a party of 6 to 8 characters of 5th to 8th level of ability with at least three magic items specifically designed to neutralize Trolls - emphasis mine).

Come to think of it, I'm not sure if I used any of the included adventures, but the background fluff and sub races were pretty cool. I may just steal some of this for the current campaign.

How Important Are Included Player Maps to You as a DM?

I do pretty much all of my DMing these days via Hangouts / Roll20. I grab a screenshot of the map, upload it, enable Fog of War and it's ready to go.

Except that 19 out of 20 products don't include a player version of the map. Which means secret doors, traps and the like are often marked on the map, which takes some exceptional use of FoW to keep those from being exposed too early, and in some circumstances, there is not much one can do to keep the secrets secret.

A few publishers (Purple Duck is one) do provide players maps for use in VTT sessions, which is awesome for folks like me.

Would player maps make running your game sessions easier?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mini Review - Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad Issue #1 Winter 2014 (DCC RPG Fanzine)

My first thought?

This Zine goes to 11!

Not because I think Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad is a comedy, but because it cranks the DCC RPG up to 11. It knows no bounds or maybe it pushes boundaries. Whatever it does, it does it damn well.

Actually, what is does is Swords & Sorcery as a theme to the proverbial "T", especially for an urban environment. You most certainly do not need the DCC RPG to make the most of Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad, although the wacky DCC dice will certainly help with the tables. The tables are insane, use funky dice and look to be a blast in actual play. I did mention I love tables that work in session, right? Because much of these do.

Shit! I'm thinking that Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad layered atop the classic Thieves' World boxed set running with Crypts & Things (but stealing liberally from AS&SH) would be like the most awesome RPG Urban Sandbox ever run by a mere mortal.

Then I remember I don't have the time! Grrrr!

Metal Gods of Ur-Habad is PWYW. This means you can try before you buy, but you will buy.

Trust me.

You will buy ;)

Tavern Winelist - Tøøthstejnn The Red, The Grimy Wyvern Wine-Hall Cabernet Franc

Woot! is one of those "deal a day" sites. They are also a bunch of geeks.

I've never bought one of their wine selections until today (and this deal has a 5 day span to run) but with the gaming theme (and the fact that I generally like cabernet wines) I had to give this a shot.
Fuel for the Fire...of Imagination! 
Hours of adventure await you and your party in the Grimy Wyvern Wine-Hall.  In every darkly purpled shadow lurks an intriguing character. 
The freebooting mercenary Blackpepper....the alluring temptress-witch Dcherryi...the cutthroat half-elf assassin twins Ceedarr and Van'Illa... 
This richly flavored source material brings a complex, multilayered world of fantasy to life, one sip at a time. The only limit is your imagination - and your bladder.
4 bottles for 50 bucks. It may be a gamble, but if nothing else I'll have some cool bottles to display ;)

Time to Get Myself Out of the Way - Judges Now Have Access to the OSR Superstar Entries

When I thought up the idea of having all of the entries on a single document with identifiers redacted, I never thought we'd have over 330 entries. I also didn't expect the interesting bit of turmoil going on at my real life job, with big bosses being replaced and others waiting for the axe to fall or transfers to be announced - it's made for a really long work week and has left me less free time at home to put together the master document.

The judges were picked not just because they know RPGs, but because I felt they were honest and could do the job without bias. I still feel that way. Therefore, I've given them direct access to the entries via the email account. What we lose in anonymity, we make up for in time - without this we'd have lost a week at least in the process of getting the entries judged. I think it is a very good solution to get the dice rolling again.

This does mean that I can now move what little free time I have to sending all of the entrants their free PDF copies of Dagger, the RPG for Kids. I'll start sending those emails out tonight in the order the entries were received. It will take a little time, but at least we've addressed the largest blockage - me ;)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Experience Points, Levels and the Demarcation Line of the OSR

Earlier this week, Mike Mearls had an article at the WotC website talking about experience points and levels in DnD Next. I am not going to critique the article here, but it got me thinking about the "line in the sand" that separates 2e and 3e, or OSR game rules from those that follow. It comes down to one thing, and it's not skills, feats or any one of a number of other things that annoy me.

Nope, it comes down to one simple thing.

Class based experience tables.

Prior to 3e, each class had it's own experience table and their own rate of advancement. Part of the balance between the classes was just that - the rate they advanced in levels based on experience points.

I do remember the houserule we used in high school for a bit - one level gained per adventure, no counting of experience points. It sure seemed to make leveling easier, less number crunching and the magic-users sure loved the idea. Multi-class characters were always an issue, and thieves got boned. We didn't use this houserule for long.

Now, Mike goes on to say that counting expo for more "open" campaign is fine, but for adventure paths, automatic or paced leveling is the way to go:
Tracking experience points and using them to award levels makes a lot of sense in open-ended games, where the players can go where they wish, tackle the specific challenges that appeal to them, and create their own goals as a campaign progresses. In this type of game, when the players decide to assault the lair of a blue dragon, their primary goal is most often the treasure and XP they'll gain for defeating it. 
In a more story-driven campaign, however, that lair assault could have a more complex purpose. The characters might serve as an elite cadre of spies and operatives for a king. The blue dragon might be a key villain who plots against the crown. Defeating the dragon removes a threat to the realm and creates a key event in the campaign's story arc. In this type of campaign, treasure and XP take second place in the characters' goals, behind the dragon's importance in the narrative.
That "story-driven campaign" crap reminds me of the old Dragonlance series of adventure.
No matter what the players did, they always ended the same way. The players were not part of the story, but detritus carried along by the pre-ordained story plot.

I suspect DnD Next will be heavily supported by "story-driven campaigns". Shame.

Not that I'm all that surprised. I'm not saying that Next won't support "open-ended", or home brewed campaigns out of the box. I just think the follow up products will be much like Pathfinder Adventure Paths, with even less wiggle room.

I may be wrong...

Books or Boxed Sets - How do You Prefer your Rulesets?

In recent years, I can only think of the following publishers putting out their rules in boxed sets:

Brave Halfling - S&W Whitebox, Deeper Delving and X-Plorers

LotFP - two editions of Weird Fantasy Role-Playing

North Wind Games - Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

Precis - Ancient Odysseys - Treasure Awaits

Troll Lord Games - Castles & Crusades "White Box" Edition

I'm sure I missed a few, but as far as I can tell, most RPGs are released as books and not in boxed format.

As a gamer, do you have a preferred format in which to buy your RPGs, and if so, why?

(personally, I like boxed sets ;)

Latest "Thieves' World" Addition - Traitor (an edited version)

Life is like a box of chocolates. Yadda yadda. So is eBay, as you never know wxactly what you are going to get.

With Traitor for Thieves' Word, what I got was the player handouts and pregens removed from the middle of the booklet and some editing done to the pregens. If nothing else, it's nice to see the adventure got some good use back in the day, whenever that day was ;)

More and more tempted to run something using Thieves World as the setting. Time. Time, or lack there of, is my enemy.

Ah well. Do have some other thoughts bouncing around my head too...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Not Nearly as Far Along as I had Hoped...

I'm still working on putting the 339(?) entries to the OSR Superstar Competition into one document. It's moving along but no where near where I had hoped it would be. Isn't helping that we have a new chief at work, which means I had to do a breakdown of what my unit does and to justify my staffing had to work on the breakdown while home.

What is the ancient Chinese curse? May you live in interesting times. I's be happy to stay with boring and dull for a bit ;)

I also need to send out copies of Dagger, the RPG for kids - I have the copy to email out, but at about 150+ emails, sending the copies is taking second place to finishing the consolidation of the entries so I can send it out to the judges.

I'm not complaining about the number of entries, but damn it was a lot ;)

What is Your "Go To" Non-D&D / OSR RPG?

I ask, because I'm not even sure if I have one. Well, there is Tunnels & Trolls, but that is still fantasy and stripped down to it's history, very much "D&D".

I've heard much goodness about Savage Worlds, but I think I'd really need to play in a few sessions to really wrap my head around it. Ubiquity (Hollow Earth Expedition and others) seems almost like a stripped down Savage Worlds. FATE just makes no sense to me, even if I did support the Kickstarter and have endless support for it. Yet another game I'd probably have to play in order to grok.


I guess I don't have a "go to" non OSR RPG.

That sucks.

So, what's your game to play when you're not playing OSR?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dude! What's Up With Your Cat Posing With Your RPG Books?

If you read this blog with any regularity, you've seen numerous pictures of my feline daughter, Ashley. If you've gamed with me online, you've probably seen Ashley's tail at the very least as it crossed the screen mid game.

Ash has her own blanket on my desk. It's her spot when I'm on my computer. Why fight the inevitable when you can just embrace it. Besides, every book that hits my desk she feels a need to check out. Might as well make it a signature of The Tavern. On the plus side, she keeps the mice away ;)

At some time, like all pets, she'll move on to the rainbow bridge, and I'll have these pictures to hold me over until we meet again in the distant future. She's a young 7 years old, so hopefully she'll be posing for Tavern Pics for many years to come :)

DCC RPG in Space? CRAWLJAMMER is the Fanzine you are Looking for...

I liked the Spelljammer setting back in the 2e days. Never to really use it (or Planescape) but I bought a bunch of stuff for it that now sits on the top shelf of a closet behind other stuff, because that's how much gaming stuff there is in the Tenkar household (not counting gaming stuff in the basement or in storage).

Anyhow, I digress a bit, but the fact remains that I like bit's of space opera in my fantasy at times. CRAWLJAMMER is a zine that puts a little space opera in your DCC RPG.

Issue #1 of CRAWLJAMMER gives a taste of what's to come. Don't expect Traveller type detailing. It's flavor or crunch, which is just the way I like it.

Highlight for me? The Lizardman Mercenary, as it could fit into a standard DCC campaign with little if any tweaks. Really well done.

Issue #1 even includes a 1st level adventure: Cry Freedom and Let Slip the Bat-Men of Venus.

These two bits alone are well worth your three bucks.

I'd rate this up there with Crawl! It's the right size to sit next to my Crawl! collection too!

How Much Detail do you Expect in the Adventures You Use

Some folks like to run adventures that are fairly barebones and fill in the needed details on the fly. Others like to have everything needed (and possibly more) - this could be boxed text and or paragraphs describing the encounter / room / tactics and if this then that situations.

I fall somewhere in between. For "drop in" adventures not part of a bigger plot line, less most certainly is more. If it's ore of a mini-campaign (Razor Coast and the like) more is better, at least for me.

What do you want in the adventures you buy? More? Less? A bit of both?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How Important Are Player Visuals in the Game Sessions You Run?

The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan

Tomb of Horrors

Many DCC adventure for 3.5

They include player visuals - snapshots of locations, walls, writings, rooms, monsters, etc - all used to bring the players' interactions more fully into the game session. Or at least, that is the theory.

Do you like these "visual handouts" or not? Why or why not?

Looking at The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan

I literally hadn't looked at this in 20 years, but discussions in the weekly group had me dig it out of the nether regions of the endless closet.

I forgot how much this module does right, such as:

- tri-fold cover, which could double as a poor man's DM's screen (given a choice between a module and a DM's screen, teenage me would go for the module every time)

- illustration booklet - holy shit, but it is well done - damn shame I can't draw for shit, or I'd be doing this for my game sessions

- "This module is meant to stand on it's own, and includes areas on the map where Dungeon Masters may add their own levels" - I did so back in the day, just wish I could find those maps 30 years later

It does suffer quite a bit from "boxed text-itis". Too much to read, to the point the players' attentions will stray. Easily enough to fix, but common for the era.

Still, i ran this multiple times. May have to do so again in the future.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

More Thoughts on a Thieves' World Campaign...

The Thieves' World Boxed set has grabbed me by the proverbial balls. I'm thinking it might make for a very nice sandbox yet episodic campaign.

Here's my thoughts:

Crypts & Things for the base ruleset

Scarlet Heroes for the skills / traits. Basically 2d8 plus stat bonus plus trait bonus if applicable. Average task requires an 11 or better. I'd have to write up a list of applicable traits but that's fine.

D30 Sandbox Companion for filling in any holes.

I'd have to get the Thieves' World Player's Guide into my players hands. It's out there on the interwebs for them to find.

I'd ask them for their goals and plans and work the hooks and schemes around that. Flexible plot points for the players to choose and react to or not. Less dungeon, more intrigue.

No expectations that it would follow the series of books, but notable characters may be seen.

Damn. I don't have time for another campaign, but the idea is just so damn cool...

Bundle of Holding - Classic GDW Traveller!

Yeah, there is Mongoose traveller, which is OGL, but can you DIE during character generation in Mongoose Traveller? I don't think so.

Then there is Traveller5, which I don't think anyone without an engineering degree can understand, and they'll be the ones saying "this shit makes no sense!"

Or you can go back to the original. Plain old Traveller. Where men were men, and often died before they got to experience the first game session.

Totally old school. Totally fun. I'm totally in, as I have the rules and the class books, but little in the way of campaign material.

I'm just thankful it's not the traveller New Age crap ;)

Grab your Bundle of Traveller here.

Mortality: Inevitable Yet Terrifying

latest in a series of guest posts by The Tavern's patrons.

We accept that we have a limited lifespan on the planet.   No big deal, in a few decades, we'll fade from existence.   Such is life and the natural course of affairs.   Right up until it hits you smack in the mouth or when someone you loves lapses into forlorn silence.

As gamers, mortality is something we deal with day to day.   For OSR folks, we can lose a handful of characters without more than a nodding of the dead to indicate death has once again defeated the living. Occasionally, one grabs our soul and plays out a life not as a shade of ourself but something superior, something far different, than the original idea.  The character springs to life amid the whims of a game master but is truly born in the soul of the player behind it.  There are few characters that reach that inspirational level but when they do, it is agonizing experience for not only the player but for the game master.

Game masters are the embodiment of life for the characters.   Certainly they pull strings, but I, they, want to make characters flourish.   To do so is to them alive and along with them a string of others. The world opens, play expands, and those characters, those players, continue to make memory after memory.  But it has end.  No one can live forever.

Game masters come and go.   Groups wither and die.  What once was, can be no more.   Characters are bound to us but have lifespans far shorter than desired.  A character's lifespan can be as short as the game master's

Mithirill & Mages

Monday, February 17, 2014

Games From the Basement - Thieves' World Boxed Set

I really enjoyed the first couple of Thieves' World books. Later ones seemed to be much less enjoyable, but the first three or four were simply aces and I could see myself running a campaign in the city and the surrounding area.

I never did.

I wasn't able to make it work in my head in D&D terms, and at that point in my gaming history we had already played some RuneQuest and moved on, or back, to AD&D as our fantasy ruleset of choice.

Damn but I can see this playing out in my head right now as a S&W sandbox. Lots of adventures, few dungeons, lots of intrigue, few magic items but the ones found will have history and power and overall lots of fun.

The encounter charts are inspirational and the mapping is damn near magical. The city is presented in a systemless manner but the personalities are stated out for nearly every damn system that was on the market back in 1981. Which systems?

AD&D, Adventures in Fantasy, Chivalry & Sorcery, DragonQuest, D&D, The Fantasy Trip, RuneQuest, Traveller (yes, Traveller) and even Tunnels & Trolls. The names working on the conversions is nearly a who's who of the early days of RPGs: Dave Arneson, Eric Goldberg, Steve Marsh, Marc Miller, Steve Perrin, Lawrence Schick, Greg Stafford, Ken St. Andre and others.

Ye gods but I really want to run this now. Damn me cleaning out the stack of games to make room for a real closet to be built...

Next Week I Play in my First Session of Swords & Wizardry

It sounds really strange to say that, but it's true. Although I run Swords & Wizardry on a regular basis, I've yet to play in a session as a player. That's a pretty big difference.

Heck, from 81 or so through 97, my first "age" of playing RPGs, with the exception of my very first session, some later whacked out session with 12+ players and 2 DMs and convention play, I DM'ed as a rule when it came to (A)D&D. Rifts and Battlelords I gladly joined as a player, but pretty much everything else I was the GM - easily 4 out of 5 sessions found me behind the screen no matter the game or the genre.

Upon my return in 2008 via Fantasy Grounds, I was a player, mostly because I couldnt figure out the interface as a DM. I didn't want to run 3x, I wanted to run classic D&D with my own adventures, and that was damn clunky for what I wanted it to do. I could, however, embrace it as a player, and I did get a chance to play in extended Dark Heresy and Castles & Crusades campaigns.

Move us up to D&D Next's beta and G+ Hangouts, and I was again playing as a player - until DM burnout and a broken game system led to me running ACKS, then AD&D 1e / OSRIC, some Ambition & Avarice and now Swords & Wizardry Complete. I have recently been playing in some of +Joe D 's excellent Blood Island Campaign, as we rotate the DM's chair. Joe runs a damn sweet LotFP Weird Fantasy (more heavily houseruled than even my S&W campaign).

Next week, +David Przybyla is going to run a session of S&W for us as we playtest something that he has written. I jumped at the opportunity, as I have yet to play in a session of S&W as a player. So, in a way, it will be a bit of a playtest for me too ;)

Final Tally - 339 Magic Items Entered into the OSR Superstar Competition and a Map Peek

Partial map for the final round

The magic number of magic items is 339.

It's not quite set in stone, as there might be duplicates or missed items in my count, but it shouldn't change by much. We'll have an accurate count when I send the judges their copies of the entries later on this week.

Next round for the 16 qualifiers will be designing monsters.

The final round of 8 finalists will get to complete and flesh out the partial map shown above by our very own +matt jackson (there may also be an open round using Matt's map - we'll see when we get there). Maps will be judges less on artistic ability and more on content, imagination and usability - but that's a bit down the line ;)

Huge thanks to all that entered!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

325 Magic Items Entered thus far in the OSR Superstar Competition - Just Over 3 Hours Left to Submit

Let me put it simply:

325 Magic Items submitted to the OSR Superstar Competition with mere hours left to enter!


There is still at least one more set of prizes to add to the list, I just need to finalize the details with the publisher. It is some damn good stuff (that I own and is based of the S&W rules).

Cut off for entries is 1159 PM NYC time tonight. That being said, I won't be up at 1159 tonight. I'll probably be up around 8 AM, which is when I will give the final tally. I'm not so much of an ass that I'll cut off late entries before the tally, but don't be late. Maybe my stomach will continue with it's grumblings and I will be up at 1159. Just send that shit in now ;)

There have been suggestions that I assign some of the prizes to "best magic weapon" and other similar categories - ain't happening. My judges will being having enough work as it is judging the best overall entries from the number we will have and I'm not going to throw a spanner into the works.

We will be expanding the first round to 16 qualifying entries from 8 - spots 9-16 will get $5 RPGNow gift certificates and move up to the second round.

There will be 8 qualifiers for the second round from 4 - positions 5-8 will get $10 RPGNow gift certificates and move up to the final rounds.

I'll be covering the cost of awarding the RPGNow credit to the expanded qualifying list.

At the earliest, judges will get a list of identifiers redacted submissions by this wednesday, but it may take longer (as this is by far more entries than I could have expected), as all the entries will be going into one huge document for them to review, with each submitted item given a number for me to match up on my master list.

Then the judges will need time to review and make their decisions - figure at least a week on their part, so it may be two weeks or so before the second round kicks off.

Trial and error folks. If the process moves more slowly then I may like, the best excuse for that is the amazing response to the event.

+R H is the man to thank for putting up the cash to kick this off and giving me the kick in the ass needed for me to kick things off on my end. God bless you sir :)

252 Magic Items Entered thus far in the OSR Superstar Competition - 15 Hours Left to Submit

The response to the OSR Superstar Competition has been nothing less amazing. Yep, simply amazing.

Just over 15 hours left to enter - over 250 magic items submitted.

So many additional prizes submitted I'll need to a spread sheet to figure it all out.

This, my friends, is what the hobby is all about.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

227 Magic Items Entered thus far in the OSR Superstar Competition - Yarr! Where be me Maps and Treasure?

Entries for the OSR Superstar Competition are poring in today - 25 new items enters since this morning's post with just over a day left to enter. I still need to sit down and figure out where all of the new prizes fit, which is certainly a good thing.

We are probably going to increase the number of qualifying entries from 8 in the first round to 12 or 16 just because of the sheer number of entries. The first 8 would get the prizes already mentioned and the additional qualifiers would get $5 RPGNow gift certificates as well as moving on to the 2nd round. The response really has been amazing.

So, without wasting more of your time, here are the latest additions to the prize pool:

+Peter Regan , possible best know for Oubliette Magazine and for his love of mapping tools, is donating the following for the top four finalists-
I'd like to offer up 4 prize bundles for the finalists.  They contain some of printed pads from my site Squarehex.co.uk along with a few accessories. 
Each bundle contains the following:
A5 Hex pad (7mm hexes) with Super Hex
A7 Hex pad (7mm hexes)
A7 Pad of Geomorphic Intent (7mm grid)
Little Hexes mini-campaign setting
Pocket Guide to Dungeon Geomorphs
7mm plastic card ruler
Hex symbol card
Dungeon symbol card
Dungeon symbol fridge magnet
A7 polyfile wallet
Staedtler black fineliner pen
Papermate mechanical penci
Apparently I need to get back into mapping again, because a package like the above just makes one want to map.

+Bill De Franza is adding 3 PDF bundles of YARR!, an OSR styled rules light pirate RPG. If you want to roleplay pirates with kids, adults or a fine mix of the two, this is a fine choice.

227 Magic Items. Over 100 folks sending submissions. Unlimited fun. It's what being an OSR Superstar is all about.

There's a day left to enter. Have you submitted YOUR entries yet?

Tavern Art from the Soon to be Released "Guidebook to the City of Dolmvay"

Tenkar's Tavern. The brazen thief Janni the Lucky takes bids on a (stolen) portrait of what appears to be the young wizard Kormydigar surrounded by angry demons. The curio shopowners/ pawnbrokers Abah the Dealer, Bekker of Malthaven, and Cadfan the Moneylender make offers while the grumpy dwarf Tenkar the Barkeep looks on disapprovingly. The Valenon guardsmen stop by for a chat.
Yep, the above will be in +Pete Spahn 's / Small Niche Games Guidebook to the City of Dolmvay. As if visiting The Tavern's blog isn't enough excitement for the average gamer, your PCs will soon be able to wet their whistles there ;)

202 Magic Items Entered thus far in the OSR Superstar Competition - The Mad Archmage Finds His Small Niche

So, it appears that this morning we are 25 entries further along than last night's post. We broke 200 magic items submitted to the contest with over a day and a half left to enter. Very humbling. Very exciting too! Yes, the OSR Superstar Competition is still accepting entries :)

I told you we had more prizes being donated and we do. This morning I'd like to highlight the gifts of two of the OSR's publishers.

+Joseph Bloch is donating a print hard cover copy of Castle of the Mad Archmage. It's a sweet megadungeon that Joe has published under his BRW Games imprint. I'll be reviewing this in the near future, as I find some down time after the first round of the competition closes to entries and it all gets tossed into the hands of the judges.

+Pete Spahn is donating a bundle of the complete line of Small Niche Games releases. Sixteen PDFs in all, including setting material, adventures, fanzines and more. I've really enjoyed Pete's releases, and the winner of this bundle should be inundated with some high end RPG reading ;)

I'm going to need to map things out on paper and see where all of these prizes will land ;)

Keep the entries coming!

(more prizes to be announced)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Adding Up the Ampersands - Looking at "&" Magazine (Free OSR Mag)

It never ceases to amaze me that the spiritual successor to Dragon Magazine is NOT Gygax magazine, despite the trappings and look, but "&" Magazine, a PDF magazine whose articles drip with the feel of Dragon Mag from the mid 1980s. (edit: forgot to mention - it's free)

Ecology articles, new classes, adventures, interviews, game theory - it's all there and more.

Did I mention the hyperlinked contents page? Sure, it's new fangled and I'm turning into the old guy that yells at the kids to "get off my lawn" but I think it's awesome.

Issue #7 even has an interview with +Vincent Florio , which besides being interesting on it's own even includes a shout out to me. How the hell did I miss that before?

I have every issue of "&" Magazine on my hard drive, but I've never spent the proper amount of time doing more than a quick flip though and occasional article read. It appears I need to look closer.

Actually, I will be doing that. I'll highlight at least one article per issue that really stands out to me. Might take me a bit to get through all 7 issues, but I'll start from issue #1. If you are going to do something like this, you need to do it right ;)

177 Magic Items Entered in the OSR Superstar Competition and The Frog God Adds Some Magic to the Prize Pool

Yep, 177 magic items have been submitted to the OSR Superstar Competition. Somewhere around 90 folks have entered. I am going to extend the contest until 1159 PM on Sunday Night, February 16, 2014 NYC time. We are adding about a dozen hours, no more. If you are going to enter, don't wait much longer.

Now, with that out of the way, I'm going to announce some more prizes for the prize pool (and we have even more prizes to announce, so yes, this is going a bit insane and that's the way we like it).

Frog God Games, publisher of Swords & Wizardry Complete and many adventures and other fine material for your S&W game (and some of that Pathfinder stuff too) has offered the following:
Winner gets 50% off on one order up to $1000 total order amount. 
4 runner up coupons for 25% off, up to $1000 total order amount.
Everyone who enters contest with what judges consider to be an actual entry gets a coupon for 10% off one order up to $1000 total order.
Now that's pretty f'n cool!

This is how I see it playing out:

Grand prize winner gets the 50% off on one order up to $1000 total order amount (and with at least $275 in cash prize money, that could stretch far)

Finishers in the 2nd to 4th finalist spots will get coupons for 25% off, up to $1000 total order amount.

1st place finisher in the consolation round will get a coupon for 25% off, up to $1000 total order amount

And everyone that plays and plays to win get's a 10% discount with the Frogs

Thursday, February 13, 2014

155 Magic Items Submitted Thus Far for the OSR Superstar Competition - Are they Buried in the Barrowmaze?

I just tallied up the entries that we've received to date for the OSR Superstar Competition and we are now at 155 Magic Items submitted for the first round of the OSR Superstar Competition. Submissions are open through Sunday.

Let me say this before I go any further:


There, I feel better now ;)

I am totally blown away by the response, not just by those entering but by those supporting the contest with additional prizes beyond what was initially announced.

Tonight, we add +Greg Gillespie 's excellent Barrowmaze I in PDF to the prize pool. This is Old School dungeoneering as it is meant to be. Don't forget to bring your cleric and some sledge hammers. Seriously, Barrowmaze is what I moved my group to when we needed to remove the taste of some uncompleted dungeon that shall not be named from our communal taste buds. Barrowmaze hit my group's sweet spot, and they are a discerning group of players. ;)

If you somehow missed the announcement, Barrowmaze Complete is currently seeking supporters over at Indiegogo. It includes BM I + II along with new material, professional layout, an optional support level that includes minis and more.

Enough With the Snow Already!

I'd rather be home reading RPG books - but as we are having work done on the house, that probably wouldn't have happened if I'd been able to stay home anyway.

So, what are you doing on this icy, snowy, wet, windy Thursday in February?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Announcing Some More Prizes for the OSR Superstar Competition - A Dragon and New Big Dragon

Look and weep at the awesome Reaper Bones Jabberwocky that +Christopher Hardy is donating to the OSR Superstar Competition. That's a $12.99 miniature (not so mini) right there. Also, 2 $10 gift certificates for CoolStuffInc.com. Needless to say, there is some cool stuff there. Just need to decide where these prizes land...

New Big Dragon, otherwise known as +Richard LeBlanc , is covering my offer of copies of the D30 DM's Companion in PDF to the top 16 vote getters in the 1st round of the OSR Superstar Competition. So, that frees up prize money for elsewhere. Decisions, decisions...

Dare I mention there are more cool prizes being donated? If we hit 200 entries, there is an extra $50 into the prize pool? That this, like other events I've been involved in, have taken a mind of their own?

Just Ran a 5 minute long, Imprompt RPG Session with my 3 Year Old Niece - Using the Cover of "Dagger For Kids"

My niece is 3 years old, and loves gaming dice (I had to buy her her own set of squishy polyhedrals). She's also been on a "monster kick", where imaginary monsters scare the crap out of her.

Tonight, she wanted to see my "website". Who am I to say no. We looked at various recent posts, and when I scrolled to Dagger for Kids" she got excited. She wanted to know "what is that?" and "why is he holding a sword?" (her father is a lapsed gamer).

I told her it was three heroes, and they were beating up monsters. She wanted to know what everyone was holding - axe, shield, armor, wizard robes - she really liked the robes.

I asked her to name the three heroes. Hank is wielding the sword, Shannon (my niece's name) is the wizard and Rachel (my wife's name) is wielding the axe. No idea where "Hank" came from, unless there is one in her pre-school class.

Anyhow, she asked me to tell her what was happening in the picture. I told her the "almost scary monsters" wanted to grab the heroes and asked he what the heroes were going to do.

She said "Shannon throws ropes on them!" (just like the picture, but it is probably webs ;) and Hand and Rachel were going to "crack them on their heads and tell them to GO HOME!"

All that was missing was killing things and taking their stuff.

She watches a lot of Spongebob, so maybe that's where the "crack them on their heads" line came from, but I'm damn sure I have a future gamer in the family.

My son is 20, and RPGs never hooked him, and I never tried until he was older. My niece is 3 and roleplaying seems to be in her blood ;)

Guest Post - "How Play-by-Post Made Me a Better Gamer"

How Play-by-Post Made Me a Better Gamer

The Setting

I was just a kid back in the early days of role playing games - you know, the late 70s and early 80s. My cousin introduced my brother to basic edition of Dungeons & Dragons, who then roped me and all his friends into gaming.  Sure we didn't understand a lot but we had loads of fun and I still look back on those days with fondness!  As the years rolled by and the devil-worship mentality took over in our town I left the gaming scene for a long time.  In 2008, however, a neighbor got me back into the hobby, and it didn't take long before I discovered the OSR and the fantastic retro-clone systems like Swords & Wizardry, OSRIC and Labyrinth Lord.  A while later I started an online game (via Skype) with my brother and his family, but it just wasn't the same as it had been those many years before.  Yeah, we still play, once in a while, but arranging a time for everyone to get together is proving more and more difficult and less and less likely.  I have enjoyed keeping up on the hobby, however, by reading blogs, web sites and many of the cool books and supplements put out by members of the community.

The Hook

A few months ago I had the bright idea to look for an online RPG group that didn't require a huge chunk of my precious free time.  I struck upon the lucky idea of play-by-post, or PbP as it is also known. I spent several days searching for a good community and site, and finally settled upon joining Roleplay Online - mostly because they had a number of specialized tools and tailored software that made the PbP experience easier and more fun.  Also, they had a robust community of several thousand active members, which made it easy to get into a game quickly.

The Treasure

Since taking the PbP plunge I have made several surprising discoveries.  First, let me share with you the unexpectedly good things.

I've become a better role player.  Yeah, I've found that spending some time thinking about and composing a well crafted reply has made me take more notice of my character and try to do as he would do and say as he would say.

I'm getting a much broader gaming experience.  Whereas nearly all of my pre-PbP gaming experience was concentrated in the fantasy genre, I find myself now branching out into lots of games, such as Call of Cthulhu, classic Spycraft and many of the awesome science fiction games I've always thought would be fun to try but never had the time to do so.

I can play on a time schedule that suits me. Time was my biggest issue for getting into PbP - both the amount of time required for a regular in-person gaming session and when I was able to set aside that much time to play.  PbP has let me play games on my own schedule.  I can post whenever I want, and spending as little as a few minutes each day keeps me connected to my game and the gaming hobby in general.

The Damage

However, there have been some adjustments which weren't so fun to make.  Here are some of the cons I've found with PbP.

The play action is much, much slower.  Yeah, be prepared for things to move glacially slow.  My rule of thumb is that it takes about one month to cover as much as we would in one hour of real face-to-face gaming time.  That can be agonizing, but it also allows me to play in more simultaneous games than I otherwise would have the chance to do.

Some of the rules and actions need to be tweaked in order to be feasible on PbP.  I'm finding that games with more rules (such as d20 based games and several newer RPGs) tend to be more difficult to play.  I think this is a natural result of needing to know more details for those types of games - such as the exact relation between two combatants, or where characters are standing when surprised by some dastardly villain.  However, the upside to this is that old school rule sets are very well suited to PbP!

It is not as social.  The part I probably miss the most is the good times that go along with live gaming sessions.  Subtle humor and inside jokes are virtually absent.  And don't even get me started on the snacks and drinks!  It's just not quite the same imbibing your favorite beverage when you are the only one in the room!  ;-)

The Experience Points

Overall I've found that I enjoy PbP immensely. The old school and retro game systems seem particularly well suited to the free-form / less-rules type of role playing that is often found on the site.  If you are thinking this type of play might be something you would enjoy, here are a few tips I would offer:

Give PbP a try if you don't have a regular group... or the time to play in one.

PbP may be right for you if you want to experience some game systems you otherwise might not get a chance to play.

And finally, this type of gaming may be your cup of tea if you want to get in a little bit of quality gaming time each day.

Most of all I've found that, just like other things in life, you get out of it what you put into it - so go for broke and have a blast doing it!  If you've had experience playing RPGs by post then please let us know how it turned out.

Rusty loves the OSR and tries to constantly keep up with its ever growing flood of blog posts and awesome products.  Although he doesn't have a gaming blog you can contact him at his science fiction review site: BestScienceFictionStories.com.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Talking About Magic Items - How Do You Handle Charged Magic Items?

Do you tell the player the number of charges when they find the magic item?

How do you determine the number of charges?

Can a totally spent charged item be recharged?

How do you handle recharging charged magic items?

Inquiring minds want to know, as new charged items are popping up in the OSR Superstar Competition ;)

A Gift for All that Enter the OSR Superstar Contest - "Dagger For Kids"

Everyone that submits an entry to the OSR Superstar Competition will get a PDF copy of the soon to be released revised Dagger for Kids, courtesy of +John Adams and Brave Halfling Publishing.

We have over 70 magic items submitted thus far - not bad for just over 48 hours.

We also have additional prizes to announce, ranging from discounts, miniatures, in print RPG products, PDF products and more cash for the prize pool - exciting times will only get more exciting. I'll try to announce the additional prizes daily.

What are you waiting for? Read the rules for the OSR Superstar Competition and enter today!

(I have a friendly wager that we will hit 200 entries - lets see it happen ;)

New appreciation for Old School Revival Gaming over at the Gaming Ballistic Blog

I game with bloggers, game designers, artists and the like. I'm probably the least creative in my gaming circles. I love reading the feedback and experiences of those that game with me.

One of those fine folks is Douglas Cole, owner of the Gaming Ballistic blog and writer of GURPS Supplements and articles:
New appreciation for old school revival gaming 
So, when +Peter V. Dell'Orto told me that some guy named +Erik Tenkar was looking for extra members for his Swords and Wizardry "B-Team" campaign, I'll admit I more or less had no idea who Erik was when Peter told me to sign up, only that I had had most of the games I played in drop offline...
You can read the rest of the post in it's entirety at the Gaming Ballistic blog. Tell Douglas "Some Guy" sent you ;)

Seriously, read it. He makes some great points.

Time to Bring "One on One" Play to your Stars Without Number Campaign - For Free

Mandate Archive: Stellar Heroes (free) does for Stars Without Number (free) what Black Streams: Solo Heroes (free) did for fantasy OSR clones - it gives us a short, free supplement that enhances one on one gaming with a GM and a single player. Did I mention it was free?

From the blurb:

Face the perils of a heartless cosmos with a single daring hero.

Stellar Heroes is a brief collection of rules modifications that will allow you to run a Stars Without Number game with but a single player and GM. Can't get the group together this week? Want to introduce a spouse, kid, or friend to Stars Without Number without the complications of a full table? Use Stellar Heroes to arm that daring galactic freebooter with the toughness and competence necessary to stand alone where a full party of lesser heroes might otherwise be required.

As a bonus, you'll find a free two-page side adventure inside suitable for use as a quick detour for your newly-minted hero, or as the sort of situation that could easily be used for a full party of more traditional adventurers.

If you enjoy Stellar Heroes, consider grabbing Black Streams: Solo Heroes for a version of these rules intended for compatibility with Labyrinth Lord (tm) and other similar old-school games. Keep on the lookout as well for Scarlet Heroes, my old-school-compatible game of fearless adventure for one hero and one GM!

Monday, February 10, 2014

OSR Superstar Competition - 35 entries in 32 Hours!

We are having an excellent response to the OSR Superstar Competition - 35 entries in 32 hours! Simply amazing!

I'm going to throw out an additional carrot if we hit 135 entries of Magic Items for Swords & Wizardry - not only will the top 8 entries win $10 in RPGNow Gift certificates, but the top 16 vote getters will also get PDF copies of the D30 DM's Companion, courtesy of readers like you.

If you've bought anything from RPGNow using the links here at Tenkar's Tavern, you are not only providing $10 Gift Certificates to the top 8 vote receivers in the 1st round of the competition, but the top 16 will be getting an excellent OSR resource. All we need is 135 entries by noon on Sunday ;)

edit: (for those hoping for email responses to their entries - if the mail didnt bounce, I have it - response has been awesome, which would make answering everyone time consuming - so I have your stuff - please send more ;)

How Do You Award XP in Your Campaigns?

I was listening to an episode of the Roll For Initiative podcast on the drive to work this morning and the topic of awarding XP came up.

Give XP for gold or not? Full value or modified?

Give XP for magic items found?

Give XP for overcoming obstacles?

Give XP for attaining goals?

Give XP for overcoming monsters?

Other methods?

I award for overcoming adversaries, recovering gold, ad hoc XP for attaining goals and overcoming obstacles. Session write ups award a 10% expo bonus.

I also award a small bump in XP awards to my once a month group compares to my more regularly meeting group. Not a huge bump, but it it there.

How do you award XP in you campaigns?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

If You Could Make One Post Here, at The Tavern, What Would it Be?

I've had two guest posters recently, one the other week and one tonight. I finding that I'm enjoying hosting the postings of others. Different perspectives are fun for me, even if I don't always agree with them completely (not saying that about my guest posters, just making a general observation).

I've been told I have "reach" and "influence" between the traffic The Tavern sees and those that have circled me on G+.

That very well may be. If so, I'm offering it to the community that has given it to me so freely.

I'd like to have a guest poster or two a week. We'll see if I get enough inquiries.

I'm open to topics that deal with gaming. Try not to offend too many folks, I do that well enough on my own ;)

If you are interested, use the contact form on the right and send me a query letter. Well, nothing that professional, but give me an idea of what you want to post about. I do reserve the obvious right to not publish a submission, but I doubt many potential posts will get denied with the creativity my readers have.

While you are at it, why don't you write up a magic item or three for the OSR Superstar Contest ;)

Guest Poster - Dylan Hartwell, AKA the Digital Orc - Describe Some of the Favorite Convention Games You Have Played In

For those who don't know or haven't figured it out yet, I allow guests to post over here at The Tavern. There really isn't much of a requirement as to topic, but it should, in general, revolve around RPGs, the hobby and the like. Or not. I do retain the right of refusal. If you are interested, use the contact form on the right ;)

Dylan Hartwell, AKA the Digital Orc, has been playing and running roleplaying games since 1985. He has played in and ran D&D, RIFTS, and Dark Heresy campaigns each running more than fifty individual game sessions.  Dylan has attended more than 20 gaming conventions since 1997 including Con on the Cob, Origins, and Gencon where he has run multiple Labyrinth Lord adventures.  He has maintained an OSR blog called Digital Orc at www.digitalorc.blogspot.com since 2010 and is an active member on the Dragonsfoot and Goblinoid Games forums in addition to being a regular commenter in the OSR blogosphere.  He has self-published six Labyrinth Lord game adventures and supplements. Dylan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s degree in Technology in Education.

Gary Gygax helped get Gencon started way back in 1968.  It’s always been a part of our roleplaying game culture.  Even if players didn’t attend in person, the details in Dragon Magazine, the new products released, and later the awards all contributed to cohesion in our favorite hobby.  It became a rallying point around which we players could both meet and measure our style of gaming.  Recent reports of increased housing blocks in Indianapolis selling out faster than last year suggest that we’re on track to beat the record-setting 49,000 unique visitors that attended Gencon 2013.

Midwest Gencon attendance also correlates with the rise of the OSR.  That is, Gencon attendance was relatively stagnant through the second half of the 1990s and the following ten years, but experienced a massive surge during the second decade of the 2000s, as did our OSR movement concomitantly.

However, convention register-and-play roleplaying games are significantly different than at-home campaigns, which are the heart of this hobby.  They are different for a wide variety of reasons.  So, here is my prompt for your comments:

Describe, in as much detail as possible, some of your favorite convention games in which you have played. (added thought - what do you think made them so enjoyable?)

Kicking Off the OSR Superstar Competition - Let's Design Some Magic Items!

Here's the moment you've all been waiting for - or not :)

It's the opening round of the OSR Superstar Competition, and that means there is loot up for grabs.

Here's what you need to do:

1 - Name, design and describe a magic item for use with Swords & Wizardry. We are using Swords & Wizardry because it is easy enough to convert to other old school / OSR rulesets. Use any flavor of the rules you may desire (Whitebox / Core / Complete). They are all available for free in PDF. (there are links to the various S&W Rulesets on the right side of this page)

2 - Be creative. A magic sword, + 1 / + 3 vs. opinionated RPG bloggers might be new, but it really isn't all that special. Try to make your item special.

2a - Remember, special does not necessarily mean "all powerful". This is something many of us (myself included) often forget.

3 - Mail your entries (no more than 3 per person, so send us your 3 best) to OSR.Superstar@gmail.com - do NOT post entries on the blog - entries posted on the blog will be disqualified.

All entries remain the property of their creators. By entering the contest, you agree your entries will be added to the OGL and released in PDF format for free to the OSR community to peruse, use and abuse. They will also be posted on this site.

8 entrants will be chosen to move on to the next round of the competition. Those 8 entrants will each receive $10 RPGNow Gift Certificates in addition to any prizes they may receive in later rounds of the competition. Non-qualifying entrants may be placed in a pool for random donated prizes.

The 4 qualifiers of the 2nd round will each win $25 cash, paid out via Paypal. Other prizes may be added.

The final winner will be crowned the OSR Superstar, will all rights, privileges and slings and arrows such a position may entail. The OSR Superstar will receive $250 paid out via Paypal and a copy of the Original Dungeons & Dragons Reprint Box, retail value approximately $150. If the OSR Superstar has a mailing address outside the US, the prize money may be reduced slightly to cover the excessive cost of shipping items outside the United States thanks to the US Postal Service

This round of the OSR Superstar Competition will be open until Sunday, February 16th, at 1PM Eastern (NYC) Time, at which time entries will be forwarded to the competition's volunteer judges for review. Judging may take a week or more depending on number of entries - we will be better able to estimate the time needed when the number of entries are counted up.

Once the entries have been forwarded to the judges, they will be posted here at The Tavern without identifying the creators (to keep the judging unbiased).

Edit: Everyone that submits an entry to the OSR Superstar Competition will get a PDF copy of the soon to be released revised Dagger for Kids, courtesy of +John Adams and Brave Halfling Publishing.

Non-Definition of the OSR

"There is no definition of the OSR. Basically people can declare they are either in the OSR or not. If they put out a product and declare it OSR, and it doesn't sell for shit amongst people who declare themselves to be in the OSR, then the product isn't OSR." +Joe D

This came up in conversation tonight. It's as accurate as any other definition (or not) that I've seen for the OSR.

Agree, disagree, expand?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

An Update From Alex - Dwimmermount Update # 69

I really like the rough layout version - it looks like something drawn at the gaming table

The following is Alex Macris's update for Dwimmermout from earlier tonight. If you don't know who Alex is and what kind of cred he has, it will be explained below. I've run ACKS, and even though I'm not running it now, there is a bunch of stuff from it that I've stolen borrowed for my S&W Campaign. Give the man a chance to get his sea legs before y'all try to throw him overboard ;)

Hello, everyone! This is Alex Macris writing today's update. If you read Tavis's last update, you know I'm now actively working on Dwimmermount.

Who Am I?
I had a somewhat painful realization (by way of Tenkar's Tavern) that many of you don't know who I am, having never backed any other Autarch products or visited our forums. A short introduction seems in order.

I'm the co-founder of Autarch and lead designer of its all internal products - Adventurer Conqueror King System, Player's Companion, and Domains at War, as well as the upcoming Lairs & Encounters and Auran Empire Campaign Setting. Over the past 2.5 years I've written over 500,000 words of old-school D&D-style content for Autarch. I've also been intimately involved in Dwimmermount since the beginning, having been the one who first wrote James about publishing his dungeon, before handing it over to Tavis. Since the design portion of my last project, Domains at War, is complete, it has freed up time for me to work on Dwimmermount and I will be carrying the development and editing through to completion.

What Work Am I Doing?
I am going through each chapter and appendix of the book and finishing what is called in industry parlance "development" (as compared to "design"). This is the process of fleshing out ideas that the original designer left incomplete, reviewing the material for inconsistencies or imbalances (and correcting them where they occur), and polishing the draft.

Whereas Tavis and the team had previously focused on developing the material surrounding the dungeon, I have begun with a focus on the dungeon itself. At present I am completing development of one dungeon level every two days, to date including The Path of Mavors, The Laboratory, The Reliquary, The Hall of Portals, and The Reservoir. I see no reason that this pace will not be sustainable, so I anticipate having all the dungeon levels developed on February 24th.

As each level is completed, it will be handed-off for proof-reading, then made available to you as word documents so that you can offer feedback in real-time to me about the decisions I've made. If for whatever reason I make a development decision that displeases the majority of the backers, please be assured I'll address it. Those of you who have worked with me on the other Autarch products know that I am willing to work very interactively with backers to make sure that expectations are met. (See the changes to the city mechanics in the original ACKS as an example).

What Comes After the Development of the Dungeon Levels?
Once all of the development work on the dungeon levels is complete, I will do final development on Dwimmermount's introductory chapters and appendices, to make sure that the material in the dungeon levels matches what's in those chapters. The chapters that I'll work on, and the duration I expect each to take, is noted below:

Chapter 1: Introduction (1/2 day)
Chapter 2: Setting of Dwimmermount (5 days)
Chapter 3: Adventuring in Dwimmermount (2 days)
Chapter 4: Vicinity of Dwimmermount (1/2 day)
Chapter 5: Muntburg (1/2 day)
Chapter 6: Overview of the Dungeon (2 days)
Chapter 7: Factions Within the Dungeon (2 days)
Chapters 8-20: Levels 0 - 9 (covered above)
Appendix A: New Magic Items (1/2 day)
Appendix B: New Spells (1/2 day)
Appendix C: New Monsters (1/2 day)
Appendix D: Rival Parties (1/2 day)
Appendix E: The Four Worlds (1/2 day)
Appendix F: Azoth (2 days)
Appendix G: Secrets of Turms Termax (5 days)
Appendix H: Tables (1/2 day)
Therefore it will take another 22 days. That would put completion at around March 18th. I know that I have personal and business travel coming up that will prevent me from working on this each day, so realistically I will push this back to March 30th. Each step of the way I'll be releasing the word documents so that you can see what's being done.

Once all of the development work is done, it will pass to the rest of the development team to lay it out and bring it to print. On every other product I've worked on, the writing got done before the art and maps were finished, but in this case the reverse is true and I expect a very quick turnaround. I will, however, leave it to those more expert in that side of the business to speak to the specific timeline when it gets closer.

That's all for now. Back to work for me.

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