Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Kickstarter - Myth & Magic - The Truth Be Told, At Last (update 63)

The Myth & Magic Player's Guide Kickstarter. What can I say about it now that I haven't said already? Not much. It was, truth be told, so full of blatant lies that it was almost humorous to follow. At least until Tom decided to post my name and tracking information in the comments section of the Kickstarter for all to see. Yeah, I contacted Kickstarter for that bit of "unprofessional conduct" and they removed it.

I expected my copy of the M&M Player's Guide to be either piss soaked or covered in anthrax after that little incident, but it arrived clean and unscathed- just so I could be shut up. See, I wasn't bitching so much about the lateness but the lies piled upon lies.

Apparently, Tom has decided the truth will set him free. Not that he admits to lying in so many words. He is still, by training, a lawyer:

Project Update #63: Things are still moving, but...
For backers only (I think folks deserve the truth, so here it is, with snarky comments provide by your favorite Tavern Keeper)
Posted by New Haven Games
Hi Everyone...

This is going out to the backers of both Kickstarters.

I wanted to drop a much-needed update to tell you that I'm still here and still working to complete the GMG and PG shipments. You have asked multiple times for the true reason for the Kickstarter fiasco. I tried, as politically as possible, to dodge the question and to keep you all positive (lets call bullshit what it is... bullshit. Tom lied. Now he tells us the justification for lying). Well, my attempting to keep you (and me) positive turned into untruthfulness (see, lawyer 100%) and I can't run away from the issues any longer.

The site is no longer active. In fact, NHG is no longer active. For the last few months, I have been trying to form a plan to complete the projects as quickly as possible. Part of that plan includes not funding anything outside the projects.

The first cause of all the problems is that I underestimated the cost of the Player's Guide KS, artwork for the GMG, and international PG shipments (I'll give him some play on this - he went high on the hog when it came to the art and international shipping costs rose tremendously as the project got delayed). Not having the proper business foresight (translation - "I had no idea WTF I was doing but the money coming in seemed nice"), I didn't control the early spending and went overboard with quality. So, I've been self-funding the final leg of the PG shipments and everything since the first draft of the GMG; and by extension, everything to be completed moving forward is to be funded with my money (because Tom can't budget for shit - not uncommon in the world of Kickstarters). The second cause has been a lack of time outside of my work and family. I wrote this game and began marketing it before I was working. I always naively thought that I would be able to manage it all. Well, I was wrong. (honesty - doesn't it sound nice for a change?)

The cold hard truthful reason why things have crawled to a temporary stop is that I don't have enough money stored up to quickly fuel the projects (did he piss it all away on hookers and blow? no - he suffered from some of that Nystulian syndrome - can't run a business for shit)

Now, having said all of that, I'm NOT GIVING UP. It's hard enough to think that NHG is no more, but even harder to think that I have let down the players that made the game possible. And for that reason, I vow to get this done. I have begun to look into various loan programs and for a few private reasons, I should be able to secure the necessary funds by the end of Summer. Mid-September to be exact. (I'm glad Tom is looking to make things right. Doesn't explain away all of the lies, nor does it earn forgiveness for said lies, but it's more than some other project creators have attempted. Assuming it's not more lies...)

A few things must happen. It doesn't cost any money to release the full art-free GMG, so I can realistically get that to the GMG backers on or before the first week of May (nicely done). I will also continue to send out small quantities of books with my private money until I get the loan. These shipments will also include the Players Guides ordered by GMG backers. As I said, any loan will most likely come through in mid-September. At that point, whatever orders are not received or needing to be re-shipped will be immediately shipped out. I would love to get all international orders shipped before the loan, but some of them are $80 to $100 a whack! I will still try though. My goal, in terms of the GMG, is to have it printed and shipped before the end of the year. (lofty goals)

Trust me, I understand your frustration. You have every right to be frustrated and even angry. We all had an amazing time collaborating and creating this game. The only thing I ask for is more patience and more time. Please. Nothing happened as a result of bad faith or any intentional scheme to defraud you (except for the lies. That built upon more lies. And when confronted with evidence of lying, more lies still). It was all a matter of my mismanaging the PG Kickstarter. It's a beautiful book, but dammit, it was my undoing!

Another factor of my undoing was not communicating enough (no - Tom's undoing was the lying. That, more than anything, has hurt whatever business he had.) I was embarrassed. Add in the hate mail and hate comments, and running away from the updates and comments was the only way I could avoid having a nervous breakdown. You may or may not know this, but I have two small children. I can't let them see me fall apart over this. (understandable. lying puts a horrible toll on folks, especially when they want to do right and are confront by their bullshit)

My next update will include the GMG pdf and an update on how many additional shipments I was able to send out. I will also set up a new dedicated email address to start fresh with everyone. The other email addresses are filled with vileness. I hope we can just start over, with a new email, and have some better dialogue. I probably will not read the comments here so that I can try to focus on what's ahead, but I will update you more frequently.

Well, that's it - the entire ugly truth. I'm still here and still dedicated. I have the right mindset now to get this done and I will get this done!!


It's not the entire ugly truth, but close enough. The angry comments (and blogposts) were due more to the outright lies, especially about having shipped out hundreds of shipments, than being late. If Tom truly (there's that fucking word again) attempts to do right now, much of his earlier deception will be forgiven, but probably not forgotten.

Damn shame as Myth & Magic had the makings of a fine game.

Steading of the Hill Giant Chief - Cartoon Walkthrough - WotC

How did I miss this? (probably because it just released today ;)

You can grab the full size maps / strips (there are 2) at the WotC site (linked for your enjoyment)

Magic Items - How Unique Do You Want Them?

Every player worth their salt has memorized the magic item tables of the rulebook of your choice. Really, just ask them.

So, not only are weapons and armor with simple plus "ho hum", but so is just about every magic item published in a core book. They can recite the abilities of that Staff of Power or the Elven Cloak they just found once they ID them (and probably before as they pelt you with guesses).

Do you create magic unique magic items for your campaigns? If you do, is it there to add spice to the basics ones or do you replace all of the standards with unique items of your own design?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wayward Kickstarter - 4thWar Equipment - Wargaming Table - (built by Anton Jackson)

Wait, you don't remember Anton Jackson, the homeless character from In Living Color? He could do magic with a cardboard box:

Apparently, so can the the Italians that are bring us cardboard gaming tables at the 4thWar Equipment Wargaming Table Kickstarter.

Where shall we start? Despite what the Kickstarter says, they aren't located in NY, NY. Or maybe they are, as the Kickstarter appears to have been written with a NYC Public High School education (I live here, I should know):
Put the LEGS on your HOBBY! Fully crafted cardboard table for wargamer and tabletop gamer. By a player mind for players fight! 
If you have any trouble understanding english, in the link below you can find the video with ITA & FRANCE subtitles: (strangely enough, the English subtitles are as hard to understand as the English is)
 Just who the fuck proofread this before going live?

anyone want a "chep kit"?

and I really can't make heads or tales out of this shit:

but in any case, they do supply boobies:

it's not like you could put HER on the table - it's just cardboard. Actually, my wife says that would be the true stress test for this table - damn, but my wife is as bad as me.

You want to raise $99,000? maybe spend a couple of hundred to have a native english speaker proofread your project.

I sincerely blame +Jason Paul McCartan for bringing this to my attention...

and the Winner of the $25 RPGNow GC From Post 4k is...


I had my wife pick a random number from 1 to 13, and see chose "11".

So, Jonas, send me an email at tenkarsDOTtavernATgmailDOTcom with your info and we'll get that RPGNow credit out to you.

New up will be 5 years of blogging at the end of May....

Early Peek at The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence - The Art (OSR Adventure / Mini Sandbox)

Luis Merlo
+Venger Satanis was kind enough to forward me some art of the art (and unformatted text) from his upcoming The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence. It's an adventure, sandbox styled setting and some accompanying house rules. I've barely hit the house rules, and already I've found something I'm going to port into my own game sessions. More on this with a later post

+Dyson Logos will be providing the dungeon cartography and +Alyssa Faden will be providing the island cartography. Hard to beat those choices.

As for the interior art?

I want to know WTF is going on the the scene above, because I want to put my players through that nightmare.

As for the the creature below, I want a print of this. Really. Want.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mini Review - CrawlJammer #2 (DCC RPG in Spaaaace!)

There is something I really like about CrawlJammer, and that is it's freshness. Admittedly, there is something fresh about most of the DCC RPG adventures out there, but CrawlJammer stuff is fresh and unique. Putting the DCC RPG into space seems like a no brainer now that +Tim Callahan has done so.

Last things first - CrawlJammer #2 has an adventure that takes up the second half of the issue - Red Planet Rendezvous: The Arcadian. Space combat and some derelict spaceship "dungeon crawling" give one the last of both new and old. Very well done.

Back to the beginning - Space encounters give you both a random encounter table and some CrawlJammer monsters which would fit well with little adjustments into any DCC RPG Campaign - or with more adjustments as inspiration for new creatures and adversaries in any OSR game.

The Technomancer is a new DCC RPG class for a CrawlJammer Campaign. DCC magic is something I've always had trouble wrapping my head around fully, so all I can say is it looks good, but no idea how it would turn out in play. Same goes for the new spells.

Hail Bob's is a space bar and random tables for both patrons and drinks. Very random. Very cool. Easily yoked for most OSR games.

CrawlJammer is well worth the $3.95 shipped asking price in print. Really. Whether you play the DCC RPG or not. It is simply inspirational.

Post 4k - Tell Us Your Favorite Blogposts and You may Win a $25 RPGNow Gift Cert

This is the 4,000 post here at The Tavern.



I'd like to share the excitement and offer $25 of RPGNow credit to a random blog reader. Here's how to enter:

- Link BOTH your favorite post from Tenkar's Tavern AND your favorite RPG blog post from another gaming blog. Here's a chance to highlight what YOU like.

- Do this by 7PM Eastern Time tomorrow night (April 29th, 2014).

- I'll pick a random commenter for the GC tomorrow night around 8PM

See, easy as pie.

Good luck to all and thanks for being part of this amazing ride.


Working the Senses - How Much Sensory Information do you Give your Players?

Saturday night's game session turned into a bullshit session, and one of the topics that came up was sensory information - smells, touch, visual and audio.

It got me thinking - we tell the players what they see and often tell them what they hear, but how often do we tell them what they smell? (touch always seems to be the odd one out)

Even when I described my first crime scene, with the brains and blood having the appearance of raspberry jam, I didn't include the smell of gunpowder and copper that just wouldn't leave my nose even hours later. The visual is burned into my memories and is easy to bring forward, but the smells kick in on their own when something "dings" that memory.

Just wondering if occasionally adding another sense to sight and sound might be the way to immerse the players just a wee bit more...

(post 4k is next)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dwimmermount - Labyrinth Lord Version is Essentially Complete - Golf Claps Please

No, not the cover for the Dwimmermount Kickstarter, this is the cover of "what almost was"

Now, I say "essentially complete", as there is still proofing, spell checking and layout to do, but Alexander Macris says the Labyrinth Lord edition of Dwimmermount is complete.

I do not doubt the effort that has been used to get this monster of a Kickstarter completed, but I suspect the hands of three very different creators are going to have a bit of a "Frankenstein" effect. I could be wrong. Hopefully I am wrong, as I invested a pretty penny in this cursed project. It's good to see there will be some closure soon, no matter what the end product finally is.

Here's the first paragraph of the backers only update that was sent out late this afternoon:
Hello Dwimmermount backers. I'm pleased to report that I've just uploaded three huge word documents to the backer dropbox: Chapters 1-7, Chapters 8-20, and Appendices A-G. To put it bluntly, the writing of the Labyrinth Lord version of Dwimmermount is complete. 
It's still in .docx format and multiple files. I'll wait for the "maybe ready for prime time PDF" before I spend any time pouring over this.

High or Low - How Do You Like Your Fantasy RPG Setting?

Quick question for this fine Sunday morning.

Do you prefer your fantasy settings in high or low flavor? Lots of magic and magical creatures or a bit more gritty with little magic and a very humocentric base?

Or are you somewhere in between?

Forgotten Realms is very much high fantasy - you can't walk down a road in 2e without bumping into a god's avatar ;)

I like to think I prefer low fantasy, but the reality is my games run fairly weighted to the side of high fantasy.

Games From the Basement - Demons (Mayfair Games)

Remember one of the biggest changes to AD&D 2e? No, I'm not talking about the removal of assassins or half-orcs from the roles of PCs. No, it was something that got my gaming group riled back in the day - the removal and Demons and Devils from the monster manuals and renaming them Fred and Ethel (or Tanar'ri and Baatezu - I forget which). It was, for lack of a better word, sacrilege.

So, up stepped Mayfair with it's Demons line of supplements. Made for AD&D 2e, they included new demons, new spells, a players book to get them in the mood, poster maps and other goodies. I have 2 boxed sets and 4 folios from the line. The demons come on their own hole punched pages, made to be inserted in the horrible AD&D 2e Monster binder.

Did I ever use it? No - I've never have included named demons or devils in any of my campaigns (although Azmodious did appear in a random dungeon room of a dungeon I rolled up back in High School). We did include the basic unnamed ones as "just another monster". It was just the idea that TSR was "dumbing down" or making D&D "politically correct" back in the day that annoyed us.

I don't recall if there is a matching "Devils" line of boxes and books.

Games From the Basement - Tunnels & Trolls Rulebook (Corgi Paperback Edition)

I'm a big fan of Tunnels & Trolls. I have every edition published - 1st and 3rd (oopsie - no third edition owned - cover is same as 2e - no idea the differences between 2 and 3) edition are reprints, 2nd is Ken's very own copy, 4e, multiple copies of 5e and 5.5e, unofficial 6th and 7e and 7.5e. Notice multiple copies of 5Xe? That's because there are multiple flavors.

My favorite of ALL the editions is the Corgi printing of the 5e rules from 1986.


Not because they renamed some of the more silly sounding spells (leaving Yessa Massa as is still surprises me when they changed Poor Baby - a healing spell - to Restoration).

It's because of the convenient size (slightly oversized paperback) and the affordable price, even for the time - just under 3 British Pounds.

Corgi also packed many of the classic T&T solos in double titled paperbacks. So you got two solo adventures AND a stripped down version of the T&T rules - enough rules that you could play some sessions with other players with what was provided.

Sometimes I think I'd like a copy of S&W or LL in such a convenient, portable and affordable size, but I guess that's what PDFs and tablets are for these days...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Feeding the Feeds - We've Got Your Links

When I rebuilt The Tavern's blog in late 2012, a few links / features got misplaced and forgotten. One of those was the link to subscribe at Feedburner.

See, I don't use feed aggregators and the like to read the blogs I follow, but maybe I should change that habit - Feedly and Netvibes look like convenient ways to grab all the blogs I want to read on my tablet.

In any case, we've added the links to Feedburner, Feedly and Netvibes to the right for those that want an easy way to add The Tavern.

May as well do it now, as it would suck to miss notifications when the podcast goes live ;)

How Often do you run Adventures as Written?

I've been thinking about Castle of the Mad Archmage and an earlier attempt at running a pre-release version of Dwimmermount "as written" and I've found that I have little success at running anything purely as written.

Without me adjusting things for my style of DMing and adjusting for my group's style of play, I find that adventures fail to meet expectations - both mine and that of my players. Of course, when I ran modules back in my AD&D 1e days, everything was run as written - so let it be written, so let it me done. Obviously, my methods have changed over the years.

Do you run adventures / modules / etc as written, or do you make adjustments for your styles of DMing and your players' style of playing?

Second Session of Castle of the Mad Archmage Went Well (even when the party zigged instead of zagging)

The infamous "B Team" has their once a month session last night, which was also their second session delving into the depths of the Castle of the Mad Archmage. Whereas the party virtually trounced through a sizable amount of territory on the first level of the dungeon last session, this session they decided to explore the 2nd level, and dipped their toes, intentionally and unintentionally, into the 3rd level.

Some observations:

- while the lack of a thief in the party is less than ideal, the party has done well with crowbars and hammers
- given the choice between a thief and a cleric, I suspect they'll always pick a cleric going forward
- giving incrementally increasing "exploration XP" as they explore the dungeon works as an amazing carrot. I'm still giving XP for gold and monsters defeated but no longer adding the discretionary XP I would add to a session. As the session went on, it was much like watching a game of craps at Vegas ;)
- a 1/1 cleric / magic user on the 3rd level of a megadungeon is extremely squishy. +Tim Shorts did an excellent job in not being completely squished.
- the Sleep spell really is magical at lower levels

Now, I rarely run anything "as written" these days. It's just the nature of the beast - no commercial product will ever be a perfect fit for the type of game I want to run for my groups. Sometimes I make a pencil change or note as I do my read through, but other times I just make a mental note and make the change at the table.

Also, prep usually covers where I expect the party will explore and skim the next "layer" or areas and locations. I did not expect the players to venture down to the 3rd level, and was therefore not prepared for it (although it is a snap to grab maps and drop them into Roll20). A well done megadungeon doesn't drown you in room descriptions. A good DM should be able to keep a few rooms ahead of his players by reading the sentence or two for each room in a given area and filling in the gaps for the rest. Castle of the Mad Archmage allows for this, and that is fucking awesome. We hardly missed a beat when the group dipped their toes into the 3rd level, not once but twice. Stonehell is the only other megadungeon I can think of that comes close.

+Douglas Cole has a play report of the session over at the Gaming Ballistic Blog as does +Peter V. Dell'Orto over at Dungeon Fantastic

Fantasy Grounds 4 Con (May 8th thru May 11th)

Fantasy Grounds was my portal back to active role playing (as a player in a Dark Heresy game none the less).

From my admittedly limited experience compared to others, there is very little learning curve with FG as a player and it has some amazing bells and whistles. (the learning curve is mostly on the GM side)

With all that being said, there is an online Fantasy Grounds Con coming up in May, 2014. Here's the press release:
FG Con 4 is here! 
FG Con is back for our 4th event. This time around FG Con will span 100 hours from the evening of Thursday May 8th (AUS/NZ time) to late night Sunday May 11th (US/CA Time).
We've got 43 sessions available for registration right now and several more close to being published. Visit the site here: http://www.fg-con.com/events and get started.
We've got the following rulesets being played: 
Lots of Pathfinder Society
Savage Worlds
D&D 3.5E
A playtest of the new Fantasy Grounds Champions ruleset
Serenity/Firefly using BRP
Extiction Event (totally new ruleset)
GUMSHOE (another new ruleset)
Star Wars: Edge of the Empire 
All players play free! Of course you still need to have installed a copy of Fantasy Grounds and TeamSpeak but you can still play even with a demo/free license. There is no cost to play at all. 
GMs - there is still time to get your game listed - but don't leave it too late as it will get harder to fill your game. All Full Licenses will be bumped to Ultimate licenses for the duration of the Con so you can get those friends involved who dont have a license.
If you need any help - either as a player or a GM please contact the FG Con team by email: team@fg-con.com All feedback is welcome. Suggestions regarding the site, regarding recruitment, regarding emails - whatever - the FG Con team want to hear from you. 
Damian | damian@fg-con.com
Not sure I'll have the time to pop in myself, but it looks to be a good time.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Give us Your Podcast Wants, Don't Wants

+Jason Paul McCartan and I are in the brainstorming phase of the OSR podcast planning, so I'm going to throw this out to The Tavern readers. Finish the following sentence and add it as a comment to this post.

I want the podcast to include ___________________, but I don't want the podcast to include _______


I want the podcast to include relevant guests from the OSR, but I don't want to the podcast to include the sound of Erik flushing as he takes his wireless headset to the bathroom.

No prizes, except for the possibility of a better podcast :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Dozen RPG Podcasts Given Link Love are Up

To the right of this post is a series of links to the (currently) 13 (a Baker's Dozen) podcasts I subscribe to for listening to on my daily commute. Nothing makes driving from lower Manhattan to Queens via the BQE more pleasant than a good gaming podcast. Hell, in the mornings when this direction is reversed, there are mornings I need to shut off a podcast mid topic - or sit in my car and be late to work - damn temptations ;)

The list will grow as I find time to sample more. It doesn't include any "play podcasts", as I don't currently have any of these set up on my phone. If I do add some, they'll be their own separate list, as there is some serious extremes of feeling regarding these.

Enjoy. You really can't go wrong trying anyone of the podcasts listed, but taste is always an individual thing. If you don't enjoy one, just delete the feed and move on to another...

Name The Tavern's New Podcast - Win $10 RPGNow Credit if We Pick Your Suggestion

+Jason Paul McCartan and I are looking for a name for the upcoming OSR podcast we are about to inflict upon the gaming community, and we need your help in naming it.

Add your suggestions to either this blogpost or any attached G+ threads to enter. We'll pick one (hopefully) by Monday, so get your suggestions to us by Sunday.

Our plan is to involve the OSR Community on many levels of the podcast, much as we do here at The Tavern.

Just an idea of the kind of podcast you're in for, here's the disclaimer we are toying around with at the moment:
"Warning: You are about to enter The Tavern. All bets are off. There WILL be gratuitous language and stuff that's not safe for work or people of low constitution or willpower. The dice will lay where they fall. So, enter at your own peril or find another podcast to listen to, one that doesn't make you roll save versus..." (cue intro)

13 Posts Short of 4k - Taking a Look at Where We Are and Where We Are Going

I expect we'll hit 4,000 posts sometime this weekend - Monday at the latest.

Fucking amazing. Scary too. If you've been along the ride for most of these posts, God bless you. If you're relatively new, welcome aboard.

Just think, at the end of May, The Tavern hits 5 years old. That's like venerable in AD&D years.

What are we doing to celebrate?

We hope to have the first episode of the upcoming podcast released by the end of May. No guarantees. I'm talking to the godfather of OSR podcasting tomorrow for advice. Yes, unlike blogging, I'd like to hit the ground running when it comes to the podcast - or, failing that, and least not trip up too badly.

We've got plans ( +Jason Paul McCartan and I) for the as yet unnamed podcast - we just haven't figured them all out yet ;)

Oh, for the the future listeners in the audience, you'll be hit with a New York accent and a Scottish brogue. Yep, twice the confusion and still free - can't beat that.

The blog will always be the place where I hang my hat - my comfort zone - my macaroni and cheese (baked, not from a box) - mmmm.  Damn, getting hungry at the moment. The podcast will be where I let my hair down.

No excessive talking about beer on the podcast (with a German-American and a Scotsman, it is quite likely, however, to come up on occasions), no titles (but we may resort to name calling at times), probably more profanity then we would like (but less than some of you may fear) and, hopefully, a fun time had by all.

I have no doubt that the podcast will need time to find it's proper voice. It took time for The Tavern to hit it's stride. Feel free to to prod us in the right direction when needed. We'll feel free to ignore you as warranted :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What Does the OSR Mean to You? (not asking for a definition)

What does the OSR mean to you? I'm not asking you to define the OSR, because such a definition is fairly nebulous and arbitrary.

For me, the OSR means making the old new again. Keeping the rules I first found as a teen fresh and relevant 30+ years later.

The OSR means I can find new adventures for my old rules, and new rewrites of the old rules that are easier for these aging eyes to read and this aging mind to follow.

The OSR has given D&D of old the lifespan and vitality of a Tolkien Elf - it will not die even as those that deigned it have moved on to the beyond.

The OSR is. That in and of itself is an amazing thing.

Screw "If" - "When" The Tavern Podcast Comes Together...

Alright, "The Tavern" will be putting out an OSR podcast. No date yet, but between the vague time frame definitions of SOON!, soonish and "not so soon", I'd put it around midway between soonish and "not so soon" ;)

I'm figuring two steady chairs and a guest each episode - bloggers, writers, artists - basically content creators. Not really big on the idea of doing straight up interviews, as my technique would probably fall along the lines of "interrogation". Instead, the third chair would get to put their input to the topic at hand.

Talking megadungeons? Grab +Joseph Bloch for the third seat. Talking Swords & Wizardry? Strong arm +Matt Finch . ACKS? +Tavis Allison .  Mapping techniques? +Dyson Logos and +matt jackson . Successful and on time RPG Kickstarters? Maybe +Kevin Crawford or +Zach Glazar .

BTW, the above are just examples of the way I would want the third chair to run. None of the above have been begged  strong armed  cajoled contacted yet, as the podcast doesn't exist except in the planning stage.

I'll be spending the next couple of weeks researching the technical hurdles. Thankfully, I can use OSX or Windows, so software wise I can grab the best  easiest to use and comprehend in the shortest amount of time

I expect there will be a few "negative number" episodes to work the kinks out prior to any "official" launch.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mini Review - One Night in Slateholm (Gaming Fiction)

One Night in Slateholm is +Chris Gonnerman 's 1st Volume of what will hopefully be a multi volume set of gaming flavored fiction.

Although I felt the start of the story was slow, when it hit it's speed the virtual pages flew by. A warrior and a half elven magic user  / thief get in over their necks trying to save a young woman from an evil wizard. Sure, it may seem like a hokey premise, but it works.

We get to see some classic spells get put to use (charm person and web were two of my favorite spell scenes), well done dungeon scense and most importantly, I only caught one typo.

If you enjoyed the classic TSR fiction - this is better than most and sticks closer to the gaming rules sources. Definitely a good yarn if your are looking for some gaming fiction for your virtual bookshelf.

If you have a Kindle and an Amazon Prime account, you can even read it for free ($3.25 otherwise)

If I Were to Podcast...

I've gotten a decent amount of feedback about a possible OSR themed podcast. There seems to be an interest in one, which is damn cool.

I didn't plan to be the one hosting it, but there seems to be some interest in that too - God knows who would want to hear my New York accent on a semi-regular basis but hey, not my problem ;)

There does appear to be a huge learning curve in getting this right, so I'm not going to do a "GMS" and give a date (and then another and yet another), as this shit may never happen. Then there is the software, hardware, evening wear - it took me years to become an effective and hopefully entertaining blogger - it will take me months (at least) to figure out how to do a barely passable podcast.

I do believe I have enough friends in the OSR to ensure there would be a constant stream of interesting guests - and I have some cool thoughts on that too.

Alright - time for research and a time sink check ;)

How Mongrelized is the Ruleset You Run?

I run a Swords & Wizardry Complete game - actually, I run two campaigns of S&W. It isn't pure S&W though...

In addition to a ton of houserules of my own, I use some charts from ACKS, magic items from AD&D and adventures written for the DCC RPG (as well as a "Luck" variant inspired by the DCC RPG).

Is it any wonder that mongrelmen are one of my favorite "old school" monsters? :)

So, do you run your games "by the book" or do you use a houserules and rules sourced from other RPGs?

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Podcast List - Part One - The Core Four

I'll be putting up that link list of podcast love in bits and pieces. Today, I thought I'd start out with the podcasts that are my core ones - the ones I listen to the moment a new episode is available for download, even if it means coming back to another podcast in mid episode later.

They won't appeal to everyone. A simple truth but still truth. Still, if you haven't given something on today's list a listen to and you are at all interested in gaming related podcasts, these are a good start.

Happy Jacks RPG Podcast - Stu, Stork and the rest of the Happy Jacks gaming miscreants will be happy to help you make your game better. Whether you agree with them or not isn't so much the point as they often don't agree with each other. They are experienced gamers and are very comfortable with the podcast medium.

Do they annoy me? Sure - the whole "Google Christ" (instead of calling it Google Plus) thing is played out. Some of the belching could be cut down, as it exceeds the amount we used to do during our teenage games. The biggest annoyance was Tappy and his "I don't know shit but I'll pretend I know the answer for everything" attitude. I almost miss him and his arrogant ignorance.

Still, it's a gaming podcast that my wife will listen to, and that speaks volumes. Excellent production qualities. The podcast that made me a podcast listener.

Usually updates each weekend.

Roll For Initiative - 1st Edition AD&D Podcast - +Vincent Florio and crew are the other gaming podcast that my wife will listen to. She feels like she's sitting at the table with those on the other end, which mean's they are doing something right. Informative and relaxed, it is a natural fit to my core list of podcasts.

My sole annoyance? Giving everyone the title of "DM". It's a common theme on all the Wild Games Production Podcasts. I think it's corny. So kill me.

RFI updates on a less regular schedule than Happy Jacks, which causes me to refresh my podcast app on a near daily basis to ensure I don't miss an episode. Actually, maybe that is a good thing ;)

Fear the Boot - Dan and crew have a nice, relatively short length per episode (compared to others on this list), RPG podcast. I don't want to call it philosophical in nature, but the techniques they talk about can get even a grognard like me thinking in new ways. Happy Jacks and Fear the Boot have been crossing the streams recently, which has made for some interesting cross pollination.

Drawbacks? It can be dry compared to the podcasts I've mentioned above. Well, maybe not dry, but it can lack a certain energy.

Spellburn - Yep, a podcast for the DCC RPG. Jim, Jobe, and Jeffrey do an amazing job with the show. I'm not even running DCC at the moment and haven't been for about half a year, and yet these episodes are some of the most enjoyable for me to listen to.

Except that everyone has the title "Judge" (part of the WGP shtick) I really have no complaints - except for the hiatus they were recently on. Hopefully they are back to regular episodes.

Alright, that's the Core Four. More in a day or two :)

All This Talk of Podcasts Got Me Thinking - I Can't Find one that Talks About the Clones

I just sent this as an email to Wild Games Productions, but I feel it it also something that can be talked about here:
I wouldn't mind seeing a podcast that touches upon Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Mazes & Perils, Delving Deeper, Dark Dungeons, OSRIC, Scarlet Heroes, Hackmaster, LotFP Weird Fantasy, Castles & Crusades, Blood & Treasure, Adventures  Dark and Deep (edit) Stars Without Number, Other Dust, Ambition & Avarice, Fantastic Heroes and Witchery, ACKS and the like. There is certainly a lot of ground to be covered, and none of the clones exactly matches up to the editions they are emulating. 
News about releases, talk about houserules, melding different rules sets, online (VTT) gaming yapping about the various clones - that sort of stuff. 
We all love the originals, but most (many) of us play the clones (better editing, layout, clarity and the like).  
Just thought I'd throw that out there. I think Vince and the crew could pull it off.
Now, I'm sure I missed one or a dozen of the retro clones out there with my above list.

In any case, I just think it would be fun exciting just damn cool to have a podcast devoted to the clones. Differences, highlights, game breakers, supplements, adventures, houserules, interviews and the like. Just for the love of he that is holy, please don't give the hosts the title of "DM" ;)

I'm sure +Vincent Florio  and crew have a ton of shit on their plates already but I think it's a viable idea. I know I wold listen to it :)

So, good idea, bad idea, no good idea goes unpunished idea?

Guest Poster - Pete Spahn -Terminology Deathmatch: Adventure vs. Supplement

Way, way back in the long, long ago, TSR began releasing products to support the core Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks. These products were labeled "Adventure Modules" and they differed greatly in content, design, and reception. Some were cherished and adored. Others were hated and reviled. All were accepted as "adventures".  I have long believed that the varied response to these products was not only due to personal preference, but also due to the actual design elements of these "adventures", some of which were not really adventures at all.

If you break down the content of these "Adventure Modules" you will actually see they are two types of products---adventures and supplements. For purposes of this article, an adventure is a series of outlined events that happen without character intervention, and in fact the outcome of these events can only change through the actions of the player characters. A supplement on the other hand is a location, with plot hooks, encounters, and places to explore and perhaps even things implied to be going on in the background, none of which requires the PCs to do anything.

Take a look at some of the classic adventures of the past: Night's Dark Terror, Curse of Xanathon, Assassin's Knot, Saltmarsh Series, Ravenloft, Red Arrow Black Shield.

Curse of Xanathon fits the criteria of an adventure. Badly. It's a horrible railroad that forces the PCs against a high priest who is unkillable the first time they encounter him. Only after they are forced to run from him (another railroad) do they learn how to kill him. Everything in it points to bad adventure design, and yet it is still classified as an adventure because the PCs are required to DO something to further the course of events.

A much better example of an adventure done right is Night's Dark Terror which has the PCs traipsing all over the Duchy of Karameikos trying to stop a magic-user who is uncovering the secrets of ancient magic. If the PCs do nothing, this mage and his organization of slavers could potentially become very powerful.

Ravenloft is another good example. The PCs are transported to the demiplane (which some might call a railroad) and must DO something in order to escape. Sure, they can bounce around in the village and forest, killing vampires and werewolves and such, but pretty soon Strahd is going to come looking for them which gives it a sense of urgency that is not present in a supplement.

Assassin's Knot and the Saltmarsh series involve investigative work, with consequences for inaction (or incompetence). In Saltmarsh, if the PCs do nothing, the coastal village will eventually be overrun by sahuagin.

Red Arrow, Black Shield involves the PCs traveling from country to country in an attempt to rally support for their army. Each country swayed commits troops to the final mass battle. Again, the PCs are required to DO something to complete the adventure.

Were these the greatest adventures ever written? Of course not. At the time, I don't think the folks at TSR really had a clear idea as to what made a good commercial adventure which is why you see dungeon crawls, investigations, wilderness treks, etc. all labeled as "adventure modules" and plot hook railroads accepted as standard fare. I think if they would have been classified better and a little more thought given to player motivations, some of them might have been better received.

Now let's talk about a few supplements: Tomb of Horrors, Keep on the Borderlands, Isle of Dread, Temple of Elemental Evil, Castle Amber.

Tomb of Horrors not an adventure? Keep on the Borderlands not an adventure?  Isle of Dread not an adventure? Madness!!! We've all run those adventures countless times!

But hear me out. As I said above, an adventure is more than just a mapped location with some plot hooks and encounters. There needs to be some sense of urgency, some sense that the PCs affect a course of events through their action or inaction.

Take a good long and honest look at the Keep on the Borderlands. You get the keep, some encounters in the wilderness, and of course, the Caves of Chaos. These are places to adventure in. They are not adventures in and of themselves. There is no reason for the PCs to get involved in anything happening in the text or on the map and there are no consequences for action or inaction. The encounters are mostly static. The PCs can raid the Caves and return to the keep at will, then return to the Caves, and although there are some minor suggestions for what the monsters might logically do to adapt, there is no sense of urgency for the PCs to do anything.

Compare this to the Lankhmar: City of Adventure supplement (or my own Guidebook to the City of Dolmvay). Like the Keep on the Borderlands, each has mapped locations, plot hooks, and encounters that set the stage for memorable adventures. However, none of these products are adventures in and of themselves. The PCs are not required to DO anything. They can wander around, pick fights, explore locations, etc., however, if they decide to do nothing, there are no consequences for inaction.

Can you have adventures using the Keep on the Borderlands, Tomb of Horrors, etc.? Of course you can! In fact, they are designed that way. However, again, that does not make them adventures. Anything you say about adventuring in the Keep on the Borderlands you can just as easily say about Lankhmar or Dolmvay.

Tomb of Horrors is an extreme example of this. It's basically a high-powered dungeon without the surrounding maps and encounters to give it context (i.e. a Caves of Chaos with no Keep). If the PCs leave the Tomb, no big deal. Nothing happens. Isle of Dread is the same way. You have an excellent map with tons of interesting locations and encounters, but if the PCs decide to leave the island, well it'll still be there if they wish to return. Castle Amber is basically just a romp through a magical castle (and can be considered something of a railroad as well).

Temple of Elemental Evil is basically a crawl through a large dungeon although one could argue that the evil rising in the old temple gives it an implied sense of urgency that pushes the module towards the "adventure" category.

I'd like to point out my own Blood Moon Rising adventure for a clear example of what I classify as an adventure. It is set during a festival. There are a number of events that take place during the festival, some of which surround the opening of a demon gate. On the last night of the festival, a host of demons will be unleashed.

That is the outline of the events that occur if the PCs decide to stay in their rooms with the covers pulled over their heads. Now, the kicker is that the PCs can disrupt this whole chain of events by getting involved, locating the demon gate, and closing it which prevents the demons from being unleashed on that final night. If they act: they save the village. If they do nothing: demons.

So in closing, a series of events that only vary with PC intervention. That is a published adventure. A location with plot hooks and encounters. That is a supplement.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A New Look for Tenkar the Dwarf

+Craig Brasco , thank you for the latest portrait of Tenkar the Dwarf!

I really do want that beer stein - who needs a more traditional weapon when you can have this?

It must be magical...

Podcasts - Do You Listen to Them and Which Ones do You Listen to?

I find myself listening to gaming podcasts on my daily commute, to the point that I probably should just cancel my Sirius / XM as it is hardly ever used these days.

My plan (as suggested last night by +Joe D ), is to put a link of gaming podcasts on the right side of The Tavern's page, so the readers can sample what are some of the better podcast out there, in my humble opinion.

The thing is, I am sure I'm missing some of the better ones myself, so I need you, the patrons of this fine establishment, to point me in the right direction.

My personal "go to" list of podcast includes the following (in no particular order besides alphabetical):

Dead Games Society

Fear the Boot

Happy Jacks

RPG Circus

Roll for Initiative

Save or Die


THAC0's Hammer

What say you? What's missing from this list? What have I overlooked over the last 2 years? Tell me.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

On the Eve of Easter - How Often do the Dead Come Back in Your Campaigns?

I'm sure I've asked this before, but with Easter nearly upon us, it seems like a question that fits the moment.

Raise Dead is a 5th level Cleric Spell and Resurrection is 7th (not going to touch upon the various incarnations of Reincarnate with this post).

Now, there are all sorts of ways to control abuses of the spells above, but played as written, a 7th level Cleric in S&W could raise the dead once per day. Think about it. A cleric of 7th level or higher could live like a king in a medium sized town.

Well, unless the cleric himself gets killed.

Raising the dead rarely comes up in campaigns I've played in or run, but by the book, death becomes fairly cheap to beat early on in "D&D-esque" RPGs.

How does it play out in your campaigns?

Mini Review - The Monastery of Inexorable Truth (S&W Adventure for Levels 3-4)

+Purple Duck Games has released it's first Swords & Wizardry compatible adventure - The Monastery of Inexorable Truth.

Now, i am most certainly biased in favor of this adventure as my group and I playtested it with the author, +David Przybyla (who is also a regular member of our group). We used PCs from my regular campaign along with me rolling up a 3rd level cleric. It was so brutal and yet so damn good.

I really thought we were going to be TPK'd more than once, but in the end everyone in the party survived. We certainly did better when we started thinking out of the box (my instinct was to go in head first, but then again, I rarely get to play and not DM- maybe that's a good thing ;)

Nice amount of action, enough going on to make you think - and think again - and a background story that makes sense - if the party figures it out. It took us three sessions to wrap this up, but I expect most groups would take two. We are slow starters :)

I can't recommend The Monastery of Inexorable Truth enough. (even includes a blank map for VTT use - well done +Mark Gedak )

From the blurb:


It is said that the truth will set you free... but is that, itself, the truth?  The monks of the Order of Veracity built an amazing monastery complex in the frozen mountains, using the heat of natural magma flows, in order to contemplate the truths of their stern god, Ket the Unbroken.  When they were given a wondrous tome, the Codex of Inexorable Truth, they thought that all of the truths in the world would be theirs to behold... and it would be a lie to say that their bones rest easily because of it.  But the truth can be a valuable thing, and your party of intrepid adventurers has been tasked with obtaining the truth borne in the pages of the Codex, and must journey to the dark halls of frost and fire- to learn the Truth.

The Monastery of Inexorable Truth is a Swords and Wizardry adventure for player characters of the 3rd and 4th level, including the map and key to the Monastery, five new monsters, and rules for administration of the Codex of Inexorable Truth, a powerful artifact held within the Monastery. Challenge your players to explore the domain of Ket the Unbroken, where to be tested is to find the truth of one's inner self- if you survive!  Get it now from the intrepid investigators at Purple Duck Games!

A Call to Arms! - OSWARP is Looking for DMs (East Coast OSR Con in July)

Man, it's almost surreal. My last gaming con was Gen Con 93 - over 20 years ago. Now, in 2014, I'm attending two Old School RPG Cons - North Texas RPG (NTRPG) Con in June and the Old School Wargaming and Role Playing(OSWARP) Con in July. Pretty exciting.

While NTRPG was it roots well set, OSWARP is the new kid on the block, and is technically a "Con within a Con", as it it happening in conjunction with DexCon in Morristown NJ, a fairly large east coast gaming con with a long history.

OSWARP is happening on July 4th and 5th -  a Friday and a Saturday.

I'm loving the idea of an east coast OSR centric con and it will be exciting to be there for the inaugural one. Not sure what I'll be running, but I doubt +Joseph Bloch will let me in the doors before committing to running something.

Currently they are looking for DMs (the following is from +Joseph Bloch 's Greyhawk Grognard blog:
We're looking for you to run a game! If you volunteer to run enough games (64 player-hours' worth if you're getting the special OSWARP membership), you get comped into the convention altogether. Types of games we're looking for: 
- Old-school RPGs (Basic, AD&D, White Box, BECMI, Metamorphosis Alpha, Boot Hill, T&T, Runequest, Traveller, C&S, FASA Star Trek, etc. etc. etc.) 
- OSR retro-clones and associated games (OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, S&W, C&C, DCC, Barbarians of Lemuria, etc. etc. etc.) 
- Wargames (hex and counter types and others, like Afrika Korps, Third Reich, War in Europe, Campaign for North Africa, Kingmaker, Starfleet Battles, other AH/SPI/Victory Games/etc. - doesn't have to be from the 80's) 
- Miniatures (historical miniatures from any era, Chainmail (with or without the fantasy supplement), Battlesystem, etc.) 
- Anything else you think would be appropriate for an "old school" convention
You'll find the game master submission form right there on the DexCon registration page. (DexCon is happening July 2-6, and a DexCon membership doubles as your OSWARP membership.)

Make sure you select OSWARP in the "type of game" section in the form when you fill it out. And when you do send in a game proposal, let me know (this means Joseph Bloch) either in the comments at the original post or by email, so I have some idea of what's coming. I'll be doing regular updates as games come in, so as to drum up interest, and have some ideas for stuff at the con that requires I know what's on the horizon.

And don't forget, when you pre-register for the convention, use the code OSRDX17PX30, and you'll get a $30 discount off a complete membership. To take advantage of this deal, you must sign up for 4 Oswarp-labeled events once the schedule is posted, or two OSWARP events and the OSR Team Dungeon Crawl. (Which, if you're reading this blog, you were probably going to be doing anyway, but just in case...)

That means you get into Dexcon, and can play as many RPGs, board games, video games, LARPs, miniatures games, and wargames as you can put into your schedule over 96 hours for just $40, including all the OSWARP games you can handle. That's pretty damn good. (If you're just planning on coming for the Friday/Saturday OSWARP programming, that's still the best option to choose, in terms of price.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Kickstarter - METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA Deluxe Hardcover Collector's Edition (Goodman Games)

There are a few points in the very early history of the RPG hobby that stick out as events that have left an indelible mark. I like to add such treasures to my collection as best I can when I can find them.

Original Dungeons & Dragons (I own the OCE)

Empire of the Petal Throne (I own a copy of the boxed set - still in it's wrap when I got it - opened now)

Tunnels & Trolls (I own Ken's personal copy of the 2nd edition of the rules)

Metamorphosis Alpha - never owned and damn near impossible to find on the secondary market

Not so surprisingly, all of the above games have gone thru a number of revisions over the last 40 years. Even if they weren't, do old RPGs ever die? Or do they just fade away? But I digress.

Goodman Games, they of the amazing DCC RPG and the more amazing adventures that are written for said system are running a Kickstarter to print a reprint of the 1st edition of the Metamorphosis Alpha rules in hard cover. With an honest to God book jacket. The last RPG that I bought with a book jacket that wasn't from LotFP was Runequest 2 back in the day.

Yes, this is the original Metamorphosis Alpha written by James Ward of TSR fame. While I may not have much to say about James' run on the Castles & Crusades line, his classic work is just that - classic. James' first work that I ever encountered was the Gamma World "grey box" - my first non D&D purchase and simply an amazing take on a post-apoc world, especially in the early 80's when I found it. Metamorphosis Alpha was some unattainable fairly tale game to me, heard about in articles in Dragon Magazine and little else.

So yeah, I'm excited to get a chance to read the original predecessor to Gamma World. I'm also excited about the new content being added by some of the excellent writers over at Goodman Games. Michael Curtis and Jobe Bittman are writing adventures for the Kickstarter, as is James Ward himself. Actually, James is adding a decent sized chunk of new material to the game, and it should be interesting to see James return to one of (if not actually) his first gaming projects.

My only wish is to see a Harley Stroh adventure added to the mix of stretch goals. One can only hope :)

The project has hit 5 stretch goals already and has 8 days of funding to go.

$80 bucks for the hard cover isn't cheap (nor is adding the 3 adventure subscription for $30 bucks), but I've yet to see Goodman Games fall short on quality. I fully expect to get my money's worth.

Damn you Kickstarter! Damn you Goodman Games and Damn you James Ward! I'm going to need to work some overtime next week to pay for this, but it will be worth it...

Has Anyone Stated Out Humanoids as PC Races for Swords & Wizardry?

Inquiring minds want to know: has anyone stated out humanoids as PC races for Swords & Wizardry?

Pulling out some of my 2e Complete Handbooks last night got me thinking about the humanoid races. There are a handful that I think could work really well in S&W - or at least how I run it.

If no one has done such, I may just do my own and post them up here at the Tavern...

Should Dungeons go "Wide" or "Deep"?

Dungeons, especially the large ones, seem to be built in one of two manners:

wide - spreading out to the edges of a sheet of graph paper or

deep - smaller levels with stairs and chutes to lower levels

Back in the day, I was very much a "wide" style dungeon mapper. I was easier (and cheaper) to build a large singular level for a dungeon than to spread multiple levels onto multiple sheets.

These days, I find I prefer smaller levels with vertical progression - mostly having the PCs delve ever deeper into the dark depths, but occasionally climbing to higher levels of the "dungeon" environment.

Of course, mid-sized dungeon levels with a handful of levels works fine too.

So, "wide" or "deep" or somewhere in between? What say you?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Racial Prejudice - Do You Have a Favorite PC Race (or race / class combo)?

I know I'm guilty of it. Given the choice, I'll play a dwarf every time, hands down. If the rules allow multiclassing, he'll be a fighter / cleric or fighter / thief. That's how I roll these days, even tho back in my early days of gaming, just about every PC I had was a human. Racial restrictions were tough to stomach when campaigns often hit their higher teens in level.

I'm not hugely keen on elves. No idea why. Maybe it's the bad taste Bladesingers left in my mouth as a 2e DM.

I have players that will always play an elf (magic user or m-u / something) or some other favorite. Others seem to have no such racial (or class) predispositions.

Do you find yourself predisposed (or prejudiced against) certain races or race / class combos when creating your PCs?

My Wife Wants Me to Bring Feltothraxis Out of Retirement for NTRPG Con - Who Shall the Dragon Interview?

Hard to believe it is over two years since I did a Feltothraxis video. Ain't he a cute little bugger?

I do believe +Zach Glazar has agreed to be interviewed by Feltothraxis at NTRPG Con. I guess if I am to do this right, I will need to line up some others.

+Vincent Florio you up to some silliness? ;)


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"The Perilous Forge of the Ghoul Farm" - The Seeds of Inspiration are Sprouting!

I've broken out the D30 Sandbox Companion and The Tome of Adventure Design and I'm using them in tandem for inspiration for the S&W Adventure I want to run as a pick up game at NTRPG Con.

I'm really enjoying the results thus far:

The party will receive a message from one of their patrons, requesting that they stop a villain amassing power (D30 SB AG1, AG2). To do so, they'll need to stop a ritual (D30 SB AG3). The patron is a sinful Priest (ToAD 1-8), which will certainly add some... complications.

To do that, they will need to brave The Perilous Forge of the Ghoul Farm (ToAD 1-1B Columns 1, 2 and 1-2 Columns 1, 2).

Amazingly enough, thanks to +Jim Magnusson , I already know what the villain and the forge look like.

I do love it when a plan starts to come together. :)

Found - My Original Gaming Dice!

Yep, these are the original dice my parents bought for me to go along with my Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide. The d4 was missing for years before mysteriously reappearing. There was no d10 for any of the young ones asking - the d20 was numbered from 0-9 twice. One side is orange numbers (kinda) the other was usually green. Guess I went with white in my later years ;)

These dice were first used in the summer of 1980. These were followed a year or two later by a set of un-inked gem dice.

Thanks to +parrish warren for giving me the push to find them :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Brainstorming a S&W "Pick-Up" Adventure for North Texas RPG Con

There's been interest in me running a pick up session of Swords & Wizardry while I attend North Texas RPG Con in June with my lovely wife.

So, what do I pull out for inspiration? The Tome of Adventure Design, the D30 Sandbox Companion and the D30 DM Companion. Color me inspired :)

I just need to get back to playing with mapping again - haven't had the time nor the right mental state to map, but I feel the urge returning.

Figure the adventure should be able to be run in about three hours and I'm thinking low to low-mid level (3-5 seems to be a sweet spot).

Of course, this would be my first face to face session as a DM since '97 (though I've done dozens via G+ Hangouts).

Damn, long ass time.

Whisper & Venom goes Hardcore, er... Hardcover

+Zach Glazar , he of Lesser Gnome, sent me the hardcover Whisper & Venom Compendium. It's the boxed set in a convenient book size.

The paper is high quality and the product itself is excellent (I am also a proud owner of the boxed set). If you want an affordable version of the boxed set without the bells and whistles (dice, minis, monster cards, map booklet. amazing regional poster map), this is the way to go - 30 bucks compared to 60 for the boxed set.

Whisper & Venom is written for Labyrinth Lord but converts to the old school rules of your choice without issue (OSR for the win). There is also a Pathfinder version in the works, which I am sure will increase the page count (just an observation - not a criticism - kinda.)

If I can get my wife properly acclimated to RPGs and the OSR in general via Scarlet Heroes, I suspect this would make a nice one on one campaign, as there is a richness in roleplay opportunities (and a crapload of swords swinging, dice rolling opportunities too.) Then the wife and I get to play in +Zach Glazar 's game at NTRPG Con in June ;)

Digging Out My First Two Gaming Books - 1e PH & DMG

Sure, they're beat to all hell, but that's because they were read or used every day for 6 or 7 years (before foolishly moving on to 2e, but that's a whole 'nother story).

Now I just need to find my original set of dice. I put them somewhere safe years ago and no longer know where they are...

My North Texas RPG Con Schedule is in the Bag

My #ntrpgcon schedule -

Thursday Evening - Timemaster - +Tim Snider 

Friday Evening - LL - +Zach Glazar

Sat Morning - S&W - +Matt Finch

Sat Evening - Shiverwhen - +Michael Curtis

Sun Morning - S&W again with +Matt Finch

looks like I have room to run a pick up game in the morning or afternoon of thursday or friday.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Waiting for NTRPG Con Game Registration to Open in Just Over an Hour...

Two browsers open - one for me, one for my wife.

Even took off the the 15th to stay up without issues ;)

After I see what and when I am playing, then I'll figure out what and when I'll run in open gaming...

Of course, what I run will be S&W powered :)

Problems Can Always be Bigger (Pewter Diarama)

The problem you THINK you have

The problem waiting for you after the problem you think you had
Found this pewter piece searching through a drawer of assorted "stuff" last night. Dind't find what I was looking for, but found this. Actually had forgotten about it.

I wish it were to scale with my miniatures and Dwarven Forge stuff, but alas, it's not. Way smaller.

Still, what a fun encounter to run with a group :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Should a "Good Adventure" Tell a Story or Enable One?

Alright, so my assumption that the next great D&D release is going to be a railroad got lots of
"hurrumphs!" about railroads and sandboxes and my general predisposition D&D Next.

Now, I'm not going to be making ANY assumptions about the Tyranny of dragons in this post, except that it has something to do with a "tyranny" and perhaps "dragons" are involved. Might even involve Tiamat, who is certainly an underused property by the fine folks over at WotC. But I digress.

No, I'm thinking about adventures that were written to tell a story. We don't have to look in the recent past - we have it in the glory days of gaming. I'm not even going to focus on Dragonlance, the "Big Daddy" of telling a story at the expense of player empowerment.

I'm thinking of the horrid 'Time of Troubles" storyline that brought the Forgotten Realms from AD&D 1e to 2e in the most heavy handed manner possible.

No more "assassins" in 2e? Let's do away with those pesky assassin cults. Change the bards while you are at it too.

Throw in wild magic, spell plague, gods walking the realms, replace certain gods with characters from the books that are telling the same story as the series of adventures - oh, and don't allow the player characters within those adventures to have any real effect on the progress of the story...

I could write more, but someone else has already done a better job than i ever could. I'll wait.

You read it, right? Shit is spot on.

Yes, Shadowdale could very well be the worst adventure ever, at least as far as TSR put out. The fiction trilogy wasn't much better, either.

So, "tell a story" or "enable a story"? Rails and sand are inconsequential in the larger scope of things.

Dungeons & Dragons is a Tool of the Devil - circa 1983

Huge thanks to +David Przybyla for supplying me with a copy of this gem - let alone holding on to it since 1983.

I think the above piece speaks for itself...

A Sneak Peek at Some Inspirational Art for a Future Tavern Competition

+Jim Magnusson does some truly inspirational art. The Tavern will find a way to use this in a forthcoming contest.

My players will be seeing this fine young lad pop up
in an adventure, sooner or later.
Tonight is the cut off for those that made the 1st round cut of the of the OSR Superstar Competition to get their monster entries in. Do it!

Tyranny of Dragons - The (More or Less) Self Contained D&D Next Storyline

Forbes (of all places) just had an article on the upcoming Tyranny of Dragons "Event" from WotC based upon a preview Chris Perkins shared at PAX East.

An interesting tidbit in the above linked article:
• The ToD adventures will be separate from the core system rules coming out this summer, but will be closely tied into those rules, and the first major adventures.
So, it looks like Tyranny of Dragons will be self contained and NOT require the core D&D Next books to play. Which is kinda good for the discerning gamer, as you can get a peek at the rules and the "breakout" adventure in one shot and decide if this train trip through the Realms is right for you and your group. It also means you get to pay for the rules an extra time - or at least, non identical twins of said rules if you want the "full monty".

But, it's not like they expect players in traditional home groups to cross over with organized play groups...
  • ”We’re thinking of Dungeons & Dragons as an entertainment experience across multiple platforms” that will move from story to story fluidly… so a plotline might start in the organized play games and finish in a published module. 
Never mind.

There is certainly an effort to maximize the earnings potential from the upcoming releases. I wonder how much they will charge for B/X and 1e PDF conversions of the upcoming railroads (as well as 3.5 and 4e I am sure)?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

OSR Superstar Competition - Round 2 Entries Close at 1159 PM Sunday

We're still waiting on about a dozen of the 1st round winners to get their monster entries in.

1st Round prizes are still going out and will hopefully complete tomorrow (but I'm off thru Tuesday, so yes, they will be done soon).

List of 1st round winners are here and here.

How Often Do You Kill - PCs?

There are Killer DMs, Carebear DMs and then most of the rest taking up somewhere in the middle.

Me? I don't particularly enjoy killing PCs. I, however, have no problem when their own actions lead to their demise. Most of the time I find it amusing. It removes that little bit of guilt from my DM's soul ;)

I am certainly a "let the dice fall as they may" type of DM, which can obviously lead to PC death, but I'm not so fond of "save or die" situations. Yep, not so simple to peg.

What kind of DM are you when it comes to PC mortality?

Kickstarter - Lusus Naturae: A Gruesome Old-School Bestiary - Funded, Full Color OSR Bestiary - 2 Hours Left

There's about two hours left in the funding of Lusus Naturae: A Gruesome Old-School Bestiary written by +Rafael Chandler .

You are already supporting this - right?

This is what old school gaming dreams and nightmares are made of ;)

Saga of the Splintered Realm Kickstarter - Less Than 12 Hours to Go (Funded)

Yep, the Splintered Realm Kickstarter is the one I'm writing up a mini-level (or three) for.

Yes, the man who harps on late Kickstarters is actually going to participate in one.

There really is no potential "upside" for me - but think of all the potential drama! ;)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tavern 4k - Looking Back at the Underdark Gazette

(this is the second in a series of posts taking a look at the blogs and personalities that have had an influence on me and this blog as we approach 4,000 posts. If you have suggestions of your own, feel free to add them to the comments)

When I think of "must read" blogs of the OSR that are no longer with us, the Underdark Gazette is at the very top of that list. This WAS the go to news site of the OSR.

New releases, new blogs, interesting threads and general awesomeness, if something had happened, was happening or soon would be happening in the OSR, this was the site to find it on.

I learned about much of the OSR from the links that were found at the Underdark Gazette, and it was never afraid of showing some link love to new projects and worthy blogposts from elsewhere.

Regretfully, my attempt to use the Wayback Machine to link to some of the old goodness failed, so you'll have to take my word (or if you were reading it back in the day, your own memory) that this was a must read OSR resource. Heck, i couldnt even find a pic of the old banner to use for this post.

I've never attempted to recreate the news resource that the Underdark Gazette was (as much as I miss it), as it would be an exercise in futility. It was unique in it depth and usefulness as the visible "pulse" of the OSR.

+James Smith , the man behind the Underdark Gazette, now brings us Dreams of Mythic Fantasy, a fine blog in it's own right but different than it's older and now deceased sibling.

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