Monday, June 30, 2014

Initial Basic D&D PDF to be More than just Character Gen

So, it looks like they changed their mind about it being just character gen initially.

From ENWorld:
I've been a bit remiss in communicating this. Mike Mearls has said multiple times over the last few weeks that Basic D&D will debut on July 3rd (at the same time Wizards Play Network store get the Starter Set). That debut only includes character creation. A whole bunch more will be added to it on August 19th, when the Player's Handbook is released. It will then continue to be updated as the rest of the release schedule rolls out.
Or maybe not. From the 6/30 Legends & Lore post by Mike Mearls
It’s hard to believe that we’re on the eve of the release of the first D&D fifth edition product. The Starter Set will be available at Wizards Play Network stores this week, starting on July 3. That day will also see the release of the basic rules for D&D on the Dungeons & Dragons web site. 
For the D&D basic rules, our initial release will include character creation. It features the human, elf, dwarf, and halfling for races, along with the cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard classes, all from 1st level to 20th level. As the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide near completion, we’ll add to the basic rules with more material to grow it into a complete game. Our goal is to continue to make updates to the basic rules for D&D until the end of the year, at which point it will be feature complete.

After Looking at the Classes, I May Need to Revisit the Bard

A few years back, in what is now the last published issue of Knockspell, I wrote up a bard class. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't all of that good either. Three years later I think I have a better concept of how to bring the package together, so it may be time to start doing so.

I've always had an attachment to the bard class. No, not the unworkable one in the back of the Player's Handbook, but what came later, in issue 56 of The Dragon. Now, that class might have been a bit overpowered still, what with a Fighters attack matrix, access to all weapon proficiencies and a powerful spell list, but it was the first time I remember seeing a character class in Dragon and thinking "it would be fun to play that."

So yeah, I want to make a Bard class that is fun, not over powerful and yet useful in the average party. This may be part of my month long "gaming content on the blog" project.

Is the Thief a Needed Member of the Adventuring Party?

This discussion came up with my once a month (more or less) group this past Friday. We had three fighter types and a cleric / m-u exploring the depths of The Castle of the Mad Archmage. Obviously, they lacked a thief in their number, but as was observed, the lack didn't make much of a difference.

Low level thieves essentially suck at thieving. At third level, they have about a 1 in 4 chance of succeeding with any of their basic thieving skills, which really means they fail 3 out of 4 attempts. How long is a thief going to survive failing 3 out of 4 attempts to disarm traps (let alone failing his 3 out of 4 attempts at finding them in the first place)?

At third level, he can open 1 in 5 locks - which means brute force (and wandering monster checks) will be required 80% of the time. Wouldn't another fighter type or caster be more effective with those wandering monsters than a lightly armored and combat ineffective thief?

Come to think of it, Crypts & Things allows all of the classes to attempt thief type abilities - I'm wondering if such wouldn't work well in a standard OSR game.

Just me thinking out load, as the missing thief really wasn't missed...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sneak Peeking A Piece of the Art for the Super Secret Project

Yeah, I really want to spill the beans on the Super Secret Project.

Instead, I'll sneak a peek at a +Jim Magnusson piece that will be finding it's place between the covers.

Oh, and we have some awesome color cover art by +Craig Brasco , but that will have to wait until later.

I feel like it's Christmas morning, my parents are still sleeping, and I just ripped the tape of a corner of my biggest and bestest present ;)

A Matter of Priorities

I am on vacation. Woot!

Now it is time to prioritize and organize my time for the rest of the week.

The big project I am working on needs to be solidified and put fully into motion. I'm hoping we are getting damn close to officially announcing it. I am as excited as a young child on Christmas morning, and I'm not allowed to open the presents yet. It's killing me!

The podcast with +Jason Paul McCartan and myself is nearing launch. Yes, there is talk of transcripts for those that have difficulty understanding a Scotsman and a New Yorker in the same conversation ;)

Reviews. A Shit ton of reviews.

I'm also thinking of making July a "31 Days of Gaming Content Month" - house rules, plot hooks, monsters, magic items, spells - one a day for 31 days. Yes, +Tim Shorts , I probably am insane, but I do hope to get a head start during the week of vacation ;)

Alright, time to head to the pub for dinner with the family...

Some Further Thoughts on The Lost City of Baracus

 "As is the case with the other mini-campaign settings, this module was designed to give the characters the maximum freedom, so as much as possible, let the players dictate the action. A good way to run The Lost City of Barakus is to drop clues about certain quests and adventures and then see what most interests the characters. And then, perhaps most important of all, don’t be afraid to improvise." Lost City of Baracus, pgs 4-5
The above is part of the advice given to DMs that are about to embark on the adventure of running the adventure The Lost City of Barakus.

"Let the players dictate the action" - this is the key to any sandbox or even railroad with choice. What I like about Barakus is that even though it is a (mega)dungeon, there are hooks and plots that lie without. You don't have to go back week after week into the dungeon - there is a fairly detailed surrounding area, things to do and people to meet (or eventually kill). Actually, what I would like to do is kick off this campaign (when I do) with a DCC RPG styled (or flat out stolen and converted) funnel, tweaked to the setting.

Which leads to: "perhaps most important of all, don’t be afraid to improvise."


There is no such thing as "by the book", at least not when it comes to successful and enjoyable campaigns. No adventure or dungeon writer can think up all of the things your party may attempt. If your party is much like mine are, it's quite likely your party throws curve balls not thought up by the adventure writer every couple of minutes. If so, God bless them, as your players are aces. Enjoy the exercise that comes with making sure your party's attempts to think out of the box are rewarded (although your party might not fully appreciate each such reward ;)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator & Solo GM Guidebook - About to Dig In

I'm still digging out from a crap-ton of RPG products to review, let alone read. Some stuff arrived right before NTRPG Con, some was awaiting my return from NTRPG Con and some has arrived in recent days.

I'm so glad I'm on vacation for a week. Time to dig into the goodies.

The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator & Solo GM Guidebook is one of the recent acquisitions I need to really dig into. Now that Rachel has had a taste of roleplaying thanks to the NTRPG Con and excellent DM's like +Tim Snider , +Zach Glazar and +Matt Finch , I need to make sure to feed her some more roleplaying on occasions. I figure this with Scarlet Heroes would make a solid one on one gaming session.

I'll try to give it a test later on this week ;)


Kickstarter - The Lost City of Barakus - PDF / S&W - In Hand

Somewhere, packed away in a box in storage, in my 3e version of The Lost City of Barakus. I never was a 3e player (or DM), but I did pick up odds and ends, especially stuff with old school flavor. I must have read through The Lost City of Barakus at least 2 times and skimmed through it more times than I can count.

I now have the PDF of the Swords &Wizardry version of Barakus, and I must say, I'm really enjoying it. If I didn't already have multiple campaigns going (and an Other Dust campaign kicking off imminently) I'd use my week off from work to fully immerse myself in Barakus with the intention of running it before the summer is out. I may still read it through from end to end this week though I'm not sure when I'll get to run it.

A mega dungeon with an fleshed surrounding sandbox and a handful of short adventure seeds to use in town and the surrounding just add to the depth.

Fun times.

Did I mention I love the cover art?

I'll post a review when I get far enough along in my reading to do so properly.

The PDF is $20. The Hardcover preorder is $40, but I do believe that includes the PDF for instant gratification (I am, however, not 100% sure, and the site isn't really clear on this. I got my PDF code from backing the Kickstarter - orders direct from Frog God DO include the PDFs for free)

(for a Kickstarter that's due in August, it's well on track)

Did / Do Illusionists Get Any Love in Your Campaigns?

I'm not going to say Illusionists were worthless in AD&D 1e - they weren't. They had their uses, but they were very specific and fairly rare. They were, however, a very poor substitute for a magic-user in the party, and if the party passed on the mage for an illusionists, especially at low levels, they were pretty much screwing themselves. (Unearthed Arcana changed this balance a bit and made the Illusionist more viable, but it was likely he would still be the second "arcane" caster i0n the party, not the only one.)

Gnome thief / illusionist made for a decent class combination - it's just a shame that folks in my groups always imagined the gnome in D&D to look like that stupid garden gnomes - as a race, gnomes never seemed to have a niche besides "talk with burrowing animals", but that's a whole 'nother post.

The fighter subclasses could easily substitute for a regular fighter, but it wasn't the same for the magic-user and it's subclass (and to some extent, that probably applies to the cleric and it's druid subclass too).

So, how much use did / do Illusionists get in your campaigns?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Laminated Micro Adventure by Tim Shorts

I received the above from +Tim Shorts (Gothridge Manor blog) in the mail yesterday (I also received a mystery envelope from Tim today - a mystery as it was ripped open and delivered w/o contents by the wonderful US Mail system). You can grab it free in PDF at Tim's blog.

This is awesome. As +Christian Walker says over at the Destination Unknown blog, a DM armed with a handful of these will never be found wanting. Good stuff. Now I feel the need to buy a grease pencil and write on the map ;)

Let's Get Physical - Has Anyone Broken Down the Math of the Physical Attribute Bonuses in D&D?

Strength, Dexterity and Constitution - all are important to your character's survivability in combat in D&D - but which is most important?

High Strength makes you hit harder and more often.

High Dexterity makes you harder to hit, so you take damage less often. It also gives a bonus to hit (but not damage) with ranged weapons.

High Constitution enables you to take more damage before going down, potentially enabling you to deal damage for a longer time (and if you are a dwarf or a halfling it gives one heck of a bonus to poison and magic saves)

So, which is the best one to put your highest score at?

I have no idea. Traditionally, my fighter classed characters have always gone Strength, Constitution and then Dexterity in order if priority, but I have no idea if mathematically that is the most effective priority.

No, I'm not suggesting that we need to do a mathematical breakdown of most effective priority, but it certainly would be interesting (and beyond my mere mortal abilities).

Instead, I'm interested in discussing the order of prioritization for your fighting type class character's statistics. Most of us do have a default in mind when we arrange our stats. There is no right answer (although math might show us a more effective answer).

And no, this post has nothing to do with work and the current attempts of the powers that be to find the most effective (in time and money) methods for each process that my office does. Because reality and theory rarely intersect.

Penny wise and pound foolish comes to mind...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bundle of Holding - Scarred Lands (D20 Setting)

I was not a player (or a DM) during the "D20 Era". I was, however, a collector of sorts, and I do remember the "Scarred Lands". It's just that there was such a glut of D20 products being released those days that there were many lines I never had a chance to look at. Which is probably a good thing overall, but in the years between, I've heard good things about the Scarred Lands, although I still haven't checked it out.

Less than 9 bucks for the core and about 20 for the bonus supplements. Of course, the question then becomes, how well and easy will they convert to S&W and the like...

I Stumbled Across Cracked's "15 Retarded Dungeons and Dragons Monsters" from 2009

Cracked has an illustrated list of 15 Retarded Dungeons and Dragons Monsters. The post is from 5 years ago but is still fairly entertaining. I didn't recognize the vast majority, so I assume they are either 3e or 4e creatures (or possibly from the later 2e monster books).

That's number 14, the Gelatinous Cube at the top of the page.

It got me thinking about the lamest AD&D creatures. I think the Flumph get's high points here, but I still love the fuckers. Would never use them in game, but I enjoyed their appearances in OoTS.

So, what are your favorite retarded or lame AD&D creatures (I'm going to work on the assumption that most if not all will be coming from the Fiend Folio ;)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Free RPG Day Loot - WTF is with the LotFP Free RPG Day Cover?

What the fuggity fug is "The D-Cave?" "Cry al - hi - something." It's like James is speaking in code.

There is a blue crystal blocking the title - or is that a blue penis, as you really never know with James these days. Nice to see the crystal (penis?) is branded at the "head" with "Lamentations of the Flame Princess." No, we don't need to know what the product is actually called, but we'll give you the publisher's name where the title should be.

James puts together amazing products to hold, but this cover is a confused piece of something or other.

Now, I just got this and the C&C and Goodman Games Free RPG Day stuff from Noble Knight in the mail today and this just made me go "what the fuck was he thinking?" when I saw the cover. Nice dungeon map on the inside cover, but that doesn't make this mess go away.

The more I think on it, it must be a blue crystal penis on the cover. That's why it's the "D-Cave"...

Unearthed Arcana 1e - Boon or Bane?

I remember getting the Unearthed Arcana for 1e. My God, it was like opening up a present on Christmas morning.

Surprisingly, it didn't take long for High School me to realize there was ALOT that didn't belong in the campaigns I ran, such as:

- Rolling ability scores by class. That was overpowered and broken even for those of us that treated the Deck of Many Things as a "solo adventure" for between sessions.

- Barbarian class - overpowered and anti-social

- Cavalier class - not suitable at all for dungeoneering and also overpowered. Balancing class powers with roleplay hindrances wasn't much of a balance in my High School and early College years.

- New spells. Some were awesome. Some added depth, especially to the Illusionist class. Alright, maybe this I like more than I'd like to admit ;)

Anyhow, for my group, the UA was more of a negative than a positive, but as it was "official" and "core", we felt obliged to let it be used in our campaigns. Stupidity of youth, I know.

What was your experience with 1e's Unearthed Arcana? Good, bad, indifferent?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

D&D Basic (5e) Releases July 3rd (Download) along with Starter Set (Wizard Play Stores Only)

As reported over at OSR Today, D&D Basic debuts on July 3rd, the same day the D&D Starter Box releases at Wizard Play Network Stores. Not sure where the download will be hosted, but I'm looking forward to it.

If you are like me and ordered your boxed set via Amazon, you'll be waiting until July 15th or so.

I must say, I do like the maps that are included in the boxed set.

Remember TARGA?

Thinking of the recent "controversies" in the OSR (mostly stirred for little more than the need for attention) got me thinking back to TARGA, the first attempt I can recall of trying to tame, define and direct the corner of the universe we refer to as the OSR.

It didn't go so well. The standard bearer watched as their desire to direct and control went up in flames.

The OSR didn't go anywhere. If anything, it just got stronger, and more diverse.

Grognardia was the next self proclaimed standard bearer. That didn't end well.

And yet the OSR still survives. Stronger and chaotic. Yes, if anything, the OSR is a thing of chaos. A many faceted gem of chaotic energy. It is within this chaos that the OSR finds it's strength.

The OSR does not need A standard bearer, as everyone that identifies themselves as part of the OSR IS a standard bearer. Each standard has equal value and equal importance. Whether one plays Original White Box, 1e as written, simulacrums, near clones or far clones, fantasy or scifi, Keep on the Borderland or Whisper & Vemom, or a mongrelization of pieces of the above and more - it's all OSR.

Embrace the chaos. Blood & souls for my lord, the OSR! ;)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bundle of Holding - Traveller 2300 AD (Mongoose Edition)

I've always had a fondness for Traveller. I remember having "book room duty" in High School, and after spending 10 minutes delivering books, Andrew D and myself would roll up characters for Traveller as our own minigame, trying to survive character generation. Good times.

Traveller 2300 is the version of Traveller I always wanted to play, but couldn't convince any of the others in my gaming group to do so. Ah well.

This is the Mongoose version of Traveller 2300AD, which includes the Mongoose Traveller core rules. I have those but nothing else in this package. I may just have to get in on this one, as it's a short term bundle. Just about 2 days left as I post this...

Tim Shorts Suggested an "OSR Day" - I Second the Motion

+Tim Shorts , he of the excellent blog Gothridge Manor, suggested that our corner of the gaming universe have an "OSR Day", a day where we highlight free OSR offerings and hopefully get some of the OSR publishers to offer some prized pieces of their PDF library for free on that day.

In some ways, we had something similar over the weekend with the 13 Free RPG offerings I highlighted for Free RPG Day. Most of what I pointed out was OSR in nature for no other reason than that's where my attention lies these days.

I think Tim's idea is a good one. Tim also suggested I organize it, which isn't a horrible idea BUT I do have to wrap up OSR Superstar, launch a podcast in the next few weeks and announce another project that I'm really excited about but can't talk about just yet.

Here's my suggestion. If you are a publisher and have some free OSR publications you want highlighted for an OSR Day, go to Tim's blogpost on this topic and tell him you have info for him. I'm sure he'll appreciate it ;)

Or, if you don't want to harass Tim, email tenkarsDOTtavernAT that gmail thing with "OSR Day" in the topic. Let me know what you want highlighted on the as yet unchosen day. If you have something that would be free for that day only, make a special notation of such.

I suspect, at earliest, the day would be mid September, early October, but it doesn't hurt to get the ball rolling now.

Do harass Tim tho'. He'd like you to say "hi" ;)

How Unique are Your Monsters?

I have no problem with generic orcs, goblins and the like (but even with them, I'd prefer identifiable tribes to add some differentiation) but when it comes to more powerful monsters, I prefer them to be more unique.

It doesn't have to be "The Hill Giant", but "Rodger, Hill Giant of the Fells" works quite fine for me, especially in a sandbox styled campaign.

To me, once you get beyond the basic humanoids and the like, especially in the wilderness, a small snapshot of the monster or adversary works wonders in making them unique.

Dungeons are their own style of environment, and what makes sense (or one is willing to suspend disbelief) in a dungeon environment doesn't work as well when the general populace is involved.

So, how do you handle monsters in your campaigns? Grab one from the Monster Manual, roll it up using Raggi's Random Esoteric Monster Generator, something in between?

(art courtesy of the Aenglum Blog, +Jim Magnusson )

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Jim Ward Suffers Setback - Still in Hospital - Still Needs Prayers

I got this from +Michael Badolato via the NTRPG Facebook group, who got the info from the Gary Con Facebook group's Steve Sullivan:
Just got off the phone with James M. Ward. He has had a setback. The water retention turned out to be a problem with his kidneys, so he's now battling against that as well as the heart issues. As a result, he will be in the hospital at least a while longer. Hopefully, the doctors can get this under control and get our friend back to his usual jolly self. Jim wants more than anything to be able to go home. 
Though he is not currently online, Jim really appreciates your continued thoughts, prayers, and well wishes -- so please keep posting them to his wall and anyplace else you think appropriate.
Prayers, well wishes, whatever you've got - Jim could use them.

Free RPG Day Pick #13 - The Caves of Ortok (Adventure with S&W, LL and OSRIC Editions / PWYW)

Now this, I can talk about, as I ran a playtest of the Caves of Ortok using my house ruled S&W rules. It plays out very well, and only smart play from my players (and the DM - that's me - missing a small bit of info I just happened to forget) kept us from losing multiple characters. It's a challenge, but a damn good one.

Caves of Ortok comes in three flavors - S&W, LL and OSRIC flavors. The link on this post takes you to the S&W version, but there are links on that page to the other versions.

Caves of Ortok is PWYW, so grab it, read it and if you think it's worth it, toss a few silver into the tip jar.

Oh, and yes +Jason Paul McCartan , you got the 13th spot ;)

Free RPG Day Pick #12 - Delving Deeper ("White Box" Clone)

Of the numerous clones of the original flavors of D&D, Delving Deeper often gets overlooked, which is a shame. It hues fairly close to the original White Box and all you need to play is included in three small PDFs.

The price is right at free, so why not check it out?

Free RPG Day Pick #11 - Stars Without Number (Free Edition)

Want to play sci-fi with rules that feel comfortable and are easy to learn, especially if you are going from the OSR side of the hobby? Look no further.

Stars Without Number is probably the most complete sci-fi OSR ruleset you could find. A sandbox enabling sci-fi ruleset at that.

Simply amazing that +Kevin Crawford gives it away for free. If you don't yet have it in you gaming collection, grab it now. There are also a bunch of free supplements to use with you new copy of Stars Without Numbers

Free RPG Day Pick #10 - Westwater RPG (OSR Western PWYW)

So, you say that Westerns are under represented in the OSR, and you would be right.

Therefore, let us present (for free / PWYW) Westwater, a full (no art) western RPG that should be real comfortable to those that enjoy playing the classic fantasy game and it's clones.

Heck, I'm sure you could even find a way to make a workable version of Far West if one desired - probably a more playable version than the still unreleased Kickstarter too.

from the blurb:

Back in the early 80s, B/X was one of my groups favorite RPGs.  While there were Wild West RPGs that existed, we really wanted to play in that genre using Tom Moldvay's system.  Thanks to the OGL, we can now share that with you!

Westwater uses the OGL to be completely compatible with any other B/X rules system.  While the core of the game mixes traditional 19th Century history with fantasy, there are guidelines that allow you to play the game modeled after realistic 19th century themes, or with a fully magical and fantastical theme.

So choose your gunslinger, holy man, monster hunter, mountain man, outlaw, and more classes, and earn your name in the Wild West!

Free RPG Day Pick #9 - Quick Primer of Old School Gaming

Want to know what the OSR is about?

How about why the term "OSR Taliban" has no relevance? (actually, that is NOT in the Quick Primer of Old School Gaming, but I'll give you the answer anyway - the first to use the term "OSR Taliban" and the latest to throw it around like it's a 5e rally flag are irrelevant to "old school gaming" anyway - drama is the only god the term "OSR Taliban" serves - but I digress).

Anyhow, I present to you the free Quick Primer of Old School Gaming by +Matt Finch

"You are the rulebook. There is no other rulebook.

Make it fast, make it colorful, and make it full of decisions for the players."

Free RPG Day Pick #7 - TM1 The Ogress of Anubis (Adventure Levels 4-6)

How often do you find an old school adventure that is Egyptian themed and free on top of everything else? Shall I included the small fact that is was written by the 2014 Three Castles Award winner at NTRPG Con?

Hey, I just described the Ogress of Anubis!

Free RPG Day Pick #8 - 0A The Tomb of Rakoss the Undying (Adventure Levels 4-6)

Now this is a f'n cool cover! It's worth the price of admission on it's own - and the cost is free.

Yep, The Tomb of Rakoss the Undying is yet another free adventure being highlighted at The Tavern on Free RPG Day (weekend).

Free RPG Day Pick #6 - Age Past: The Incian Sphere Primer

What is the difference between the $15 Age Past: The Incian Sphere RPG and the free Age Past: The Incian Sphere Primer? The color version is $15 bucks and the greyscale version is free.

Yep, that seems to be the difference.

B&W get's you a 399 page RPG for free.

Is it any good?

I don't have time to read 399 pages to find out, but maybe you can do the rest of us the favor and let us know. In any case, the price is right...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Free RPG Day Pick #5 - RuneQuest Essentials

RuneQuest 6 is an amazing RPG that is as intimidating as it is awesome. I gave up on it.

Then came RuneQuest Essentials, a "Pay What You Want", stripped down but still complete at 200 or so pages.

So yes, you can check out the new RuneQuest for free. I advise that you do so, as it is the granddaddy of d100 based RPGs and the price is right at free ;)

From the blurb:

This special, 'Pay What You Want' version of RuneQuest 6th Edition is designed to introduce players and Games Masters to the essentials of the game. In this book you will find the core of the RuneQuest engine, in a stripped-down format, but still complete enough to create characters and begin adventuring with one of roleplaying’s most enduring and respected systems.

The intention is that this book will give you a taste of the mechanics and encourage you to move onto the full edition of the rules. The full rulebook contains much, much more: more game options, more magic, more monsters more cults.

But for now let RuneQuest Essentials be your gateway to fantastic adventures with heroes and magic!

Free RPG Day Pick #4:Mazes & Perils (2013 Gold ENnie for Best Free RPG)

Winner of the 2013 Gold ENnie for Best Free RPG, Mazes & Perils takes "Holmes" Basic to the next step and envisions it as a full RPG.

Guess what?

It's also free ;)

Free RPG Day Pick #3: BLUEHOLME Prentice Rules - The Maze of Nuromen (Holmes Clone)

I'll make this a dual pick, with both the BLUEHOLME Prentice Rules and the introductory adventure The Maze of Nuromen available as "Pay What You Want" - so download them both, read them, play them - and if you feel the author deserves a few silvers, you can throw a handful his way.

It really is a nice clone of the Holme's Basic Rules and you can't beat the price...

Free RPG Day Sale - Buy a PDF Copy of Nebin Pendlebrook’s Perilous Pantry and receive a free PDF of A Gathering of the Marked (DCC RPG)

+Jon Marr over at Purple Sorcerer Games is running a sale for Free RPG Day. Buy a copy of Nebin Pendlebrook’s Perilous Pantry (from this link) and you will receive a free PDF of A Gathering of the Marked.

I ran A Gathering of the Marked over the course of three sessions a while back via Google Hangouts, and it was damn fine. Everyone had a good time, including me as the DM ;)

Think of it as a buy one, get one free offer ;)

From the Blurb of Nebin Pendlebrook's Perilous Pantry:

The tiny village of Bitterweed Barrow is unaccustomed to mysterious tunnels, missing halflings, or the need for brave adventurers, but now it has all three! Can a band of gong-farmers and shoe-cobblers muster the courage to descend into the darkness and confront the terror that waits beyond Nebin Pendlebrook’s unexpectedly perilous pantry?

Designed to be completed in a single furious session, this Instant Action 0-Level Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure drops your players into peril straight away. Dangerous foes, wicked traps, and ancient secrets await!


42 pages of classic 6'x9' digest-format old-school b/w dungeon fun.

Designed to be completed in a single 4 hour session, perfect for convention or demo play, but with enough hooks to become a centerpiece for your beginning campaign.

37 page appendix contains paper miniatures of every combatant, initiative cards, battlemaps of the entire dungeon, and printable pics of every image in the adventure.

Free RPG Day Pick #2 - VA1a The Lost Caverns of Azgot (New Big Dragon)

The Lost Caverns of Azgot is a free mini adventure from the guy who won the 2014 Three Castles Award. It's short, it's free and it's old school.

As a bonus, if you go to +Richard LeBlanc 's blog (Save vs. Dragon), he has 3 free d30 charts up for Free RPG Day.

Remember, my Free RPG Day picks aren't the same one you'd be getting at your FLGS - but they are just as free ;)

From the blurb:

Only a minimum number of monster encounters have been included in this adventure. Instead, it is designed to allow “population” of the caverns as the DM deems fit, allowing it to be easily adapted into almost any existing campaign (old-school or new).

While this adventure is not part of Old-School Adventures™ Module VA1: Valley of the Five Fires (winner of the 2014 Three Castles Award), it has been designed to be used in conjunction with the setting it creates. Furthermore, its format allows use with almost any early edition of the original role-playing game (Oe, BX, 1e) or comparable retro-clone (e.g., S&W, LL)

Free RPG Day Pick #1 - Guidebook to the City of Dolmvay

Alright, I'll admit it. Guidebook to the City of Dolmvay is "Pay What You Want" all of the time in PDF. Today is, however, Free RPG Day, and since not all of us have the time or inclination to make a trip to their FLGS (or may lack a FLGS) I'll be highlighting some inexpensive and / or free products one can add to their RPG toolbox over the weekend.

So, what makes Guidebook to the City of Dolmvay an excellent pick for Free RPG Day? It's a complete and fairly generic city that is close to be drop and play in most any campaign. When I say it is "generic", I don't mean that it's boring or the same old same old - what I means is that it is very flexible in the settings it should be able to fit in without major (or even much minor) work. Wnat to drop it in Greyhawk? Go ahead. How about Forgotten Realms? Easy as pie.

Heck, maybe you just want to steal bits and pieces, like neighborhoods or even just business establishments and possibly some NPCs. Have at it. Nothing says you need to take it whole cloth. Just take what you need for now and you can always come back later. I hear there are some decent taverns described in Dolmvay ;)

Guidebook to the City of Dolmvay is "PWYW", so you can check it out for free and if you life what you see, you can always toss Small Niche Games a few silvers. In any case, the price is certainly right and the amount of game-able material is excellent.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Castle of the Mad Archmage - Adventures Dark & Deep - 30% off PDF and Print - Thru June 22!

Forgive me if there are any glaring typos in this post - my son just took my wife and I out to the local pub for her birthday - five rounds of beer and shots in less than two hours will leave you feeling it. I'll admit to getting old ;)

+Joseph Bloch is putting his BRW catalogue of releases on sale for 30% off through June 22 - basically through the end of the weekend. This applies to PDF AND Print versions, so if you've been holding off on getting the Adventures Dark & Deep RPG or Castle of the Mad Archmage now is the time to pull the trigger.

I think I'm going to bed now...

Purple Duck Sale - 33% Off DCC, LL, S&W, Stock Art

+Purple Duck Games is running a sale on it's entire catalog.

DCC RPG adventures, Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, Stock Art and more.

I may need to pick up some more stock art for the "Secret Project" I'm partnered up in...

You can find the Purple Duck page here.

20% Off Lulu Coupon - Looking for Suggestions

Alright, OSR Today has a Lulu Coupon code posted of JFS20 - good for 20% off. Today is my wife's birthday, so I need suggestions of what to buy myself (she already has a MacBook Air coming her way, so she's more than good.)

Add suggestions in the comments below...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

First Look at Print Copies of Adventures in the East Mark

Damn, it's purty :)

Yes, I got a sneak peek and it looks good.

Look at that. A Kickstarter that will deliver well.

You can get Adventures in the East Mark in PDF at RPGNow. Not sure when print copies will be available to the general public.

How the Latest Spellburn Episode Nearly Disabled My Car

So, I noticed on OSR Today that the Spellburn Podcast  had a new episode up. I downloaded it at work and had it playing as I got into my car to head home.

I should mention that I work in downtown Manhattan, so driving is always an experience.

As I get to the corner to make my turn north, this is what I hear:

"In the comments section of Tenkar's Tavern, did you say that QUOTE: DCC RPG Adventures are all fucking clown shoes, and if they were real I'd kick the fucking shit out of them for being so stupid?"



and then someone gets the shit beat out of them.

I had to swerve to miss the pedestrian jaywalking and then almost found myself in a damn trench being dug out by Con Ed for the damn steam they use to heat building and water in Manhattan.

Yes, I was laughing that hard... holy shit!

Made it home in one piece thankfully :)

I blame +Jim Wampler+Jobe Bittman and +Jeffrey Tadlock may have been accomplices - I'm not sure ;)

Do You Custom Design Classes for Your Campaigns?

I don't custom design classes for my campaigns, but I have written classes. About 3 years ago, I wrote a Bard class for Knockspell Magazine (last issue of I recall - I'd hate to think my bard killed a magazine) and I wrote some Halfling racial classes for S&W a few years back. I neither case were the classes written for a specific campaign.

That being said, I do know that some DMs do design specific classes for their campaigns or tweak existing classes to make a better fit.

Do you write such classes? Have you played in a campaign with custom classes? Pros and cons? Tell us a bit about your custom classes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Just Over 2 Days Left for the DTRPG $10 Bundles and Fractal Mapper 8.0 Sale

My post on Fractal Mapper 8.0 and Counter Collection Digital V3 for $10 each

Bundle 1 of RPG Goodness for 10 bucks (complete list)

Bundle 2 of RPG Goodness for 10 bucks (complete list)

(yeah, just a quick remind before this sale ends - I've noticed that Fractal Mapper 8.0 is very popular at this price)

OSR News Site Goes Live - OSR TODAY

Looking for one stop shopping for the events going on in the OSR (and I'm sure, some of the more major events in RPG gaming in general)?

OSR TODAY is the site to bookmark. Hell, I'll probably make it my homepage I made it my homepage, just so I'm sure I'm keeping The Tavern up to date.

It's being run by my podcasting partner in crime, +Jason Paul McCartan .

Jason, now that this project is live, it's time to get our OSR podcast on the virtual airwaves :)

Another Nystulian Sighting - This Time, an Axes & Anvils Update

It seems when Mike get's a spark, it spreads. What confuses me is, A&A was effectively completed, in PDF at least. +Andrew Shields was brought on by Mikey to do so. It was released to backers, then deemed "not worthy" by Mikey, apparently because it lost much of it's Nystulian identity.  The thing is, the torch for Nysul's Infinite Dungeon was passed on to "some other sucker of a company (I forget who right at the moment.) So, why is Mikey messing with something he already washed his hand of, unless it's just to obscure things with new "I'm working on it updates" when in reality, all he is doing is a casting a cheap, 1st level spell.
I am tackling my outstanding Kickstarters methodically so that i can get everything done. The first steps involve figuring out exactly what needs to get done and how to do it. Then I will set about working my way down the list until everything is done. I will also be going in the order the Kickstarters were presented so "Nystul's Infinite Dungeon" is first. I will be generating some material for each of the Kickstarters that will be shared with backers of all three. When I know what you will be getting from the Infinite Dungeon project. I will let you know. At the very least PDFs of some maps and an RPG called "Delve". 
I'll keep you all posted on my progress. 
Thanks as always for your patience and understanding. 
Upwards and onwards!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

OGRE Pocket Edition - $2.95 - Same Price as in 1977 (NOT PDF)

Steve Jackson Games is offering the OGRE Pocket Edition for a measly $2.95. You can order direct from them (and pay some sort of shipping, so you might want to pad that order) or pick it up at your local game store by the end of the month.

I played the shit out of OGRE and GEV back in my high school and early college days and you really can't beat the price.

From the blurb

The giant tank rumbles toward its target . . . its guns are destroyed, its movement crippled, but only a few defenders are left. Will they stop the robot juggernaut, or will it crush the Command Post beneath its gigantic treads?

Ogre was Steve Jackson's first game. First released in 1977, it set a new standard for fast, exciting boardgame play. Over 25 years after its release, Ogre earned a spot in James Lowder's popular book Hobby Games: The 100 Best.

In 2012, Steve Jackson Games launched the "Designer's Edition" of Ogre on Kickstarter. . . a 24-pound box with giant maps and several hundred counters, retailing for $100.

Now Ogre Pocket Edition takes the game back to its roots. A small rulebook, 140 counters, and the same bare-bones map Steve drew himself for the very first printing. And the price is the same as it was in 1977: $2.95. ($2.95 in 1977 dollars translates to be over $10 today when adjusted for inflation; this is Steve's way of saying 'thank you' for your support for Ogre over the last three decades.)

Despite its "pocket" size, Ogre Pocket Edition will have more than enough counters to play all five of the "Ogre vs. Command Post" scenarios. It includes two different conventional forces (a Black force and a White force), with a whopping eight White Howitzers! That's a whole lot of gameplay for $2.95.

What are the Most Neglected "Old School" Games?

I'm not necessarily referring to D&D and it's clones when I speak of neglected "Old School" games, although some of it's rulesets might be included in the list (Dark Dungeons, Mazes & Perils and the like). I'm also including things like WFRP 1e, Timemaster, Gamma World (TSR), Traveller (GDW), Swordbearer, MERP and the like.)

As a fan of the older games (although I do have a number of "newer" games in my collection) it seems to me a number of them do not get the attention they deserve. Or, for that matter, any attention at all on social media, blogs and the like for a large portion of them.

Are there games you are a fan of that you feel should be getting more attention? If so, why?

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Dragon Hoard Zine #2 - On Sale for a Buck in PDF Thru Thursday!

+Richard LeBlanc , winner of the 2014 NTRPG Con Three Castles Award for Valley of the Five Fires as well as the D30 Sandbox Companion and my main co-conspirator on the secret project NUTS!, has released The Dragon Hoard Zine Issue #2 for a measly buck on RPGNow. Yep, a dollar. But only thru Thursday.

Issues 1 and 2 of The Dragon Hoard Zine are available in print (true print, not POD) for $4 each or the pair for $7. The print versions include the PDFs (actually, anything bought in print and the New Big Dragon storefront includes PDF versions for free, delivered via RPGNow).

I'm stuck between finishing reading Valley of the Five Fires or The Dragon Hoard Issue #2, both of which i picked up at NTRPG Con the other week.

From the blurb:

Inside this 32-page Nordic-themed issue:

• The Monster Roster: Linnorms (Oe/BX/1e information for 6 types)

• The Long and Short of the Viking Longhouse (with several sample maps)

• Here's the Thing... (folkmotes and fitting them into your adventures)

• The Völva: A New NPC Character Class - including several new spells
(part seer, part shaman, part wanderer... all woman)

• Vifillmein: An Adventure for Characters Levels 1-3

• Dealing with Level Drain (a host of alternatives to "by the book" level drain)

• The Houses of the Mark: NPC Encounters Adapted from
William Morriss The House of the Wolfings (NPC encounters for nearly
2 dozen tribes and their most important members)

• A Trio of Norse-inspired Magic Items

What is the Justification for Rangers getting 2HD at 1st Level?

Rangers (and Monks) in AD&D 1e both get 2 Hit Dice at 1st level. If they have a Constitution bonus, they also get it twice at first level, giving Rangers a potential of 24 HPs to start out with (they get D8 for HD, not D10 like fighters and paladins.

I don't recall how it was for the ranger and monk in the OD&D supplements, but I've always wondered why these two classes started out with extra hit points at first level.

Was there ever a stated reason?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mini Review - Bird of a Feather (Whisper & Venom Setting - Lesser Gnome)

Ashley is in lazy mode today

Bird of a Feather was my first "acquisition" at NTRPG Con earlier this month. It almost felt like a cold war spy thriller, meeting +Zach Glazar in the hotel bar and receiving the "hand off". All it needed was to be wrapped in some brown paper wrapping and tied off with some twine.

I don't think I can properly stress what a great product Whisper & Venom is. I have both the boxed set and the hardcover for "Old School Gaming Systems" and it is extremely well done. Boxed set if you like opening Christmas presents and hardcover for portability.

Bird of a Feather is set in the Whisper & Venom setting. You don't need Whisper & Venom to run Bird of a Feather (BoaF), but the two fit together seamlessly.

BoaF is a sandboxie hunting expedition for the party, with plenty of opportunities to roleplay and kick your party's collective asses. Zach has a talent when it comes to writing NPC - it doesn't take much space for him to bring them to life, which will only help the DM's running this (and Whisper & Venom - the reason I wanted to run W&V for my wife was because of the lively NPCs - I'll still run it for her, especially after she got a taste of it at NTRPG Con).

The font size is perfect for my older eyes. It's the first thing I noticed, followed by the double cover - an outer cover for the adventure map on the inside side, and the regional maps on a separate inner cover on both sides. I really don't know how Zach manages to put out such high quality work with all of the little extras.

Well worth a few of your coins. Oh, did I mention Bird of a Feather comes with a Rhacos figurine custom sculpted just for this release? Yep. I'm waiting to see how the mini fits in an envelope ;)

Final Round of the OSR Superstar Competition Kicks off Now!

Your mission (assuming you are one of the 15 qualifiers from the Second Round of the OSR Superstar Competition) is to:

1 - Complete the map below. You may use the hexed version or the "clean" version.

2 - You must "stock" the dungeon level using the OSR ruleset as you see fit. I advise using a "clone", as all entries will be published in a free PDF under the OGL. You can use whatever "D&D Clone ruleset you desire, but you must identify the ruleset you are using.

3 - The magic item that you qualified with in the First Round must make an appearance in your adventure.

4 - The creature you qualified with in the Second Round must make an appearance.

5 - Entries must be submitted to the email OSRdotSUPERSTAR at that gmail thing no later than midnight, July 15th, 2014. If you are unable to scan or digitally prepare your map, contact me at the above email and we will make arrangements. There will be no extensions. You have 30 days from today, at which point the judges will be given the entries to judge.

Just 9 of the 15 Second Round qualifiers have emailed me at the above address. Those 9 will be emailed over the next day or so to verify where they want their prizes sent.

Games From the Basement - B1, B2 & B3

NTRPG Con got me thinking about the box of D&D goodness I purchased via Craig's List a few months ago. Many holes in my collection were filled with that box, as my limited budget in my early gaming days prevented me from buying all that I might have wanted.

I can truthfully say I've never run an adventure from the "B" series, although I have owned B2 for years and did play through it a bit while participating in early D&D Next Playtesting.

There is a whole lotta adventure in that slim booklet. It's one of those rare modules that says 'Levels 1-3" and actually means "we'll take you from level 1 to level 3 and maybe beyond".

Good stuff.

Alright, back to uncle duties. Father's Day festivities are at our house, so I'm stealing the moments i can ;)

Wayward Kickstarters - Mike Nysul's Infinite Dungeon - An Infinite Kickstarter

Nearly 2 years overdue, somehow I expect I will not be getting my $75 worth...

Today's update:
I am tackling my outstanding Kickstarters methodically so that i can get everything done. The first steps involve figuring out exactly what needs to get done and how to do it. Then I will set about working my way down the list until everything is done. I will also be going in the order the Kickstarters were presented so this one is first. 
The Book - originally this was going to be several smaller books with a map book, art book and so forth. When D3 took over it made more sense to move it to a standard book to make it easier to print. That means some of the re-usability I sold the project on would be lost so it seems like I should provide some maps.  
A note about D3 - We have been working on eliminating any obstacles to getting the books printed and out to you. 
Hardcover Books - We are looking at a few options including having a print on demand account set up that you can redeem for your copy or copies.  
Art Print, Miniatures and Key - I have the minis and have been waiting to include the other items so they can ship together so it's only one shipping cost. I will have to pick an art print. If we have more than one option I'll set up a way for you to choose which one gets printed. As far as the key goes, is this still what you want or would a piece of terrain, custom die or something make more sense at this point? 
Delve - I offered a standalone RPG. At one point this became Cairn which then became my second Kickstarter. That doesn't seem like fair trade so I will be providing Delve as a digital download.  
Once again - I apologize for not delivering sooner. Digging in and getting everything done without worrying about how massive the task seems as a whole is the only way to untangle this mess and untangle it I shall. Thank you for your patience and your understanding. 
Well, at least the "wandering wizard" has seemed to have settled down...

What Makes 3d6 in Order so Special?

When I came into the RPG hobby back in Junior High in 1980/81, character generation was 4d6 (drop the lowest) and arrange as you see fit. Pretty much every group I played in rolled that way, with a few campaigns rolling 5d6 and dropping the two lowest. And then came Unearthed Arcana, with it's 3d6 to 9d6 method, depending on class or attribute - that was like characters on steroids before steroids were big ;)

It seemed to be the groups that had been playing since the White Box were big on the 3d6 in order. I didn't realize this until years later. When we played with a previous generation of gamers (back then, it seemed like every 4 years was a new generation) it was strict and by the book - or at least, strictly by that group's set of houseruled rules. In Junior High or High School playing with a College group - it might have been AD&D, but it wasn't the AD&D we played, and it always was 3d6 in order and no level bump. The party is in their low teens and you and another are 1st level and your highest ability is a 12? Maybe, just maybe, if you hide in the back you'll survive to level 2. Or, failing that, survive until the first food break and then leave ;)

When I rolled an 18 on 3d6 for strength in +Matt Finch 's game at NTRPG Con last weekend, it was the first time I've rolled a PC using that method in nearly 30 years. Probably the first 18 that wasn't the result of rolling dozens of characters using the method and than cherry picking (which you would do as a teen - we even did it on 4d6).

That 18 was special. I also didn't have much of a class choice at that point, as my next highest score was a 12, and I did have a 5 and a 7 in the mix (wisdom and intelligence respectively).

I'm not sure I'd run a campaign with 3d6 in order these days, but a funnel via the DCC RPG method to weed out the chaff? Yep, that I can see. I like that idea, actually. It's like rolling multiple characters but not really having sole decision over which one wins out in the end...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Project NUTS - Bringing in the Co-Conspirators

I mentioned my recent secret project the other day - NUTS (Nearly Ultimate Time Sink). I'm really excited to talk about it, who I'm partnered with, folks that have agreed to be a part of it - and I can't. At least not yet, and it's killing me. But it is exciting. I'm sure I'm annoying the shit out of Rachel just by the amount of my talking about it.

Things are moving faster than expected, so hopefully I'll be able to spill the beans soon than later.

On the OSR Superstar side of things, I'm trying to get they post up for the final round and get 2nd round prizes out this weekend. I've had a bit of a distraction, as my niece came over yesterday afternoon in anticipation of my sister (her mother) returning from El Paso and two readings of her new novel, The Hollow Ground.

Long story short, the flight was cancelled and sis didn't get to the house until about an hour ago - and now she's passed out as she spent all night catching transfers. So uncle is still on duty. My dice collection has been raided multiple times (I've learned to remove the d4s ahead of time) and I'm currently attempting, in vain, to keep the kinder from my keyboard.

Back later...

Games From the Basement - Car Wars: Deluxe Edition

I was in the basement last night and one of the games I stumbled across was Car Wars: Deluxe Edition. The box is actually crammed full of stuff Car Wars related, including an issue of Autoduel Quarterly. I suspect much of it was bought separately.

Strangely enough, the counters don't appear to be cut. I remember playing a lot of Car Wars at one point, but I suspect it was all with the microgame box. I probably bought this on my tail end of Car Wars gaming.

It should be interesting when Steve Jackson Games comes out with the car Wars Kickstarter...
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