Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tonight the Party Heads into "The Caves of Ortok"

This a a huge shout out to +Jason Paul McCartan for allowing me (and by extension, my gaming group) access to one of his forthcoming releases under the Infinibadger label: The Caves of Ortok.

Just some observations:

- It's the perfect size for a single session adventure - unless you have my group - they'll probably find a way to stretch it to two ;)

- Jason sent me the S&W version. I believe it will also be coming in LL and C&C flavors.

- Player maps for the win!

- Player handouts for the bonus win :)

- It includes monsters from Monstrosities - I love that damn book

Alright, need to finish setting this up on Roll20...

What Do You Do on Game Night When You Don't Have Enough Players for the Regular Campaign?

It's Saturday night. Of your group of 6 + 1, you have only 2 players and the DM. Or maybe 4 and no DM. What do you do?

Call the session off? Push on?

Back in the wayback times, when work and family didn't prevent us from wasting a Sunday afternoon at the dining room table playing Chaos Marauders, Talisman, Nuclear War, Sega Genesis and the like, the session went one, but not the campaign.

That is a major advantage for face to face gaming, as the session (if not the campaign) can easily continue with a core chunk of players missing.

These days I play pretty much exclusively online via G+ Hangouts and Roll20. We did try, briefly, having an alternate system (T&T) when we had less than the optimal number of players, but that didn't work so well (might be that I'm probably the only member of the group well versed in T&T).

Board games are out. Drinking Quest would probably work, but each person on would probably need their own set of the rules.

For the most part, these undermanned sessions turn into amazing chat sessions, but then again, I do game with some very creative people.

So, what do you do on the game nights where you don't have enough peeps to play in the regular RPG campaign?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Time is the One Thing Man Can Never Conquer

Time - there is never enough of it. Unless you are dreading some upcoming event, in which case it passes by way too fast. Or are a child awaiting Christmas, when it goes too slowly before skipping by on the 25th in a heartbeat.

I've learned some important things about time with the OSR Superstar Competition - there is never enough time to leave the entry period open and there certainly wasn't enough time to get 330+ entries judged in a timely fashion.

The top 16 entrants will be announced this weekend.

The top 16 entrants will be posted to The Tavern this weekend.

All entries will be posted in the coming days (and weeks)

Round 2 of the OSR Superstar Contest will kick off sometime next week.

We now return you to normal posting at The Tavern...

Kickstarter Project "Ships" 17 Days After Funding Completes? Must be Kevin Crawford's Scarlet Heroes

+Kevin Crawford just announced that the Scarlet Heroes Kickstarter is officially complete. Supporters of the Kickstarter can now order their "at cost" copies of the book, the final PDF is out and the game is complete. Stretch goals may take a little longer to release, but as his target was June, I suspect he has more than enough time to get them in order.

Oh, and it's on sale for the general public too.

The man is a Kickstarter Gawd! ;)

Did I mention I'll be using Scarlet Heroes to bring my wife up to speed for NTRPG Con?

From the blurb at RPGNow:

Scarlet Heroes is an old-school tabletop role-playing game designed to provide classic sword and sorcery gaming for one player and one gamemaster. Unlike most other RPGs, Scarlet Heroes is built to support one-on-one play, with no need for a full-fledged party of adventurers to provide an evening's entertainment. Whether for a spouse, kid, curious friend, or just as an alternative to boardgames for those nights when only one or two friends can make it to the gaming session, Scarlet Heroes gives you the tools for good old-fashioned skull-cracking adventure.

Scarlet Heroes can be used both as a stand-alone RPG and as an overlay over your favorite old-school game to make its adventures playable for single PCs or very small groups. It shares the same classic statistics and basic game mechanisms as these old-school favorites, but by changing the interpretation of these numbers it makes it possible for a single courageous adventurer to dare perils that would otherwise threaten a half-dozen freebooters. With Scarlet Heroes, a GM can pull out a favorite module, grab a convenient friend, and a have a full night's adventure with no tweaking, alteration, or adjustment of the material needed.

Inside the pages of this book, you'll find...

A full stand-alone RPG system that can also be used as an overlay atop most popular old-school games.

The Red Tide campaign setting as a default for the game, with a full bestiary of Southeast Asian-inspired monsters, suitable new magic items, and a full list of new cleric and magic-user spells for that setting.

Sixty new adventure tags of the sort beloved in Stars Without Number and the Red Tide Campaign Setting sourcebook. Mix and match to fashion your own perilous circumstance.

Solo adventure tools for genuine single-player RPG gaming. Mix your own creativity with table results to create a narrative for your own hero's adventure... or use them as inspiration in crafting something for a group.

Five crisp new maps by +Dyson Logos , unkeyed and ready to be filled by your own creativity.

More than a thousand backers supported the Kickstart that funded the creation of Scarlet Heroes and now the book is available to the wider world. Seize this world of red adventure and be armed against the coming night!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The "B-Team" Will be Taking on The Castle of the Mad Arch Mage

Trying the get the "one Friday a month B-Team" to finish adventures in a single session is far from the easiest thing to do. Not because they aren't willing and able, but most adventures just seem to take more than a single session to complete, which really isn't conductive to "drop in / drop out" play.

So, I gave it some thought after today's morning post and decided a megadungeon would be the way to go. I also left the choice to the regular "B-Team" members. I gave them a list to vote on that included the following options:

Temple of Elemental Evil


Castle of the Mad Archmage

(Barrowmaze was not on the list, as there are already groups on G+ playing such, and if my group is going to do session write ups, we may as well use a different megadungeon)

Castle of the Mad Archmage won hands down in some of the quickest voting I can ever recall seeing. It doesn't hurt that it's a relatively new product that hasn't been read, run and played to death ;)

We'll be using this in conjunction with the classic Thieves' World Boxed Set - so, urban sandbox when the players desire and megadungeon to kill shit when killing is their business ;)

Tim Shorts (Gothridge Manor) Interviewed at the Gaming Ballistic Blog (Video, MP3 and Transcript)

+Douglas Cole (Gaming Ballistic Blog) interviewed +Tim Shorts (Gothridge Manor Blog) about all things gaming. GURPS, the OSR, Zines and even me amongst other things.

It's a very entertaining interview, and I'm not just saying that because of Tim's "almost Canadian" accent. Doug is certainly hitting his stride with the latest interview, which reminds me that I've missed a few and need to catch up.

So, listen to one of my current players (Doug) interview one of my future players (Tim). Be amazed that Tim was able to not drop four letter words ;)

Seriously, this is some damn good stuff and pretty much a must listen if you are into the OSR at all (but watch if you can - it ups the entertainment value ;)

If you are feeling truly adventurous and missed Doug interviewing me earlier this year, you can catch me making a fool of myself here.

My Sandbox Failure - Not a Good Fit For a "Once a Month Drop in / Drop Out" Campaign

I've learned a few things about "sandbox" campaigns, at least from my side of the table.

First, they work better when players have a few levels (and history of the campaign) behind them. That isn't much of a surprise, as sandboxes are largely player / character driven, and there has to be some history and investment before the desire to spread one's wings with an actual direction takes place. The Saturday night group is about to hit this.

It also requires frequent play and a steady roster. My Friday night group is, by it's intentional design, the exact opposite of this. Once a month more or less, with a changing roster (but pretty much a set core), it is not made for a sandbox. Maybe layer it will evolve into one, but with the slower leveling and the "drop in / drop out" nature of the campaign, I suspect not.

I'm beginning to see how something like Barrowmaze is an ideal adventure location for the "drop in / drop out" style of gaming.

Idle post breakfast thoughts on a rainy Thursday morning...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dark Dungeons - The Trailer (from the makers of The Gamers and other fine geek online movies)

Found this on ENWorld and I remember the Kickstarter - still can't believe Chick endorsed it ;)

The above is the trailer for the Summer 2014 release.

One-Page Dungeon Patreon Project - or - What Could You Support for a Dollar a Month?

For those that don't know what Patreon is, it's a service that lets you support creators of different media via a virtual automated tip jar.

I like it, and I use it to support creators that I like and respect, such as +matt jackson , +Dyson Logos+Courtney Campbell and +Mark Gedak for putting out RPG material for the community for free. See that part? It's a tool to reward creators that share their work for free with their fans. Sure, supporting them may give you some additional perks and possible input, but the idea is you support those that give back to the community.

Two out of the four above that I mentioned do maps. Now that I've added the One-Page Dungeon Project, mappers represent three out of five of the RPG projects I support (the other project I support is a musical band that covers modern songs in the style of the 40's and 50's).

What makes this project special? Look and judge for yourself:

Basic support is a buck an adventure, and if they do more than adventure a month, they just hit you for a single buck anyway.




Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mini Review - Fighting Fire - Ernie Gygax Benefit Adventure (System Agnostic)

In case you missed it, +Mark CMG (Creative Mountain Games) has written and released Fighting Fire, a system neutral fantasy RPG adventure as a benefit for +Ernie Gygax , who suffered significant losses last February due to a fire at his home. 33% of the proceeds are going to a fund (the Ernie Gygax Fire Relief trust Fund) to help Ernie get back on his feet financial, which in an of itself is a good cause. Of course, as a community, we do pretty well coming together for good causes, so on that level, Fighting Fire should be a no brainer ;)

Still, you probably want to know how the adventure itself is. Actually, it's pretty good. For me, they highlight is reading all of the in jokes and references to folks from the hobby. There are more than a few I don't know, which is a challenge I need to meet. Almost like a game within a game.

Fighting Fire is a bit of setting and a lot of adventure. Mark wisely leaves room for you, the DM, to pencil in the needed stats for the creatures your party is to encounter. As the monsters include will-o-the-wisps, ettins, fire giants, hell hounds and the like I could nearly stats this out from the AD&D 1e DNA burned into my brain 30+ years ago. Heck, your players don't even need to kill everything! Yep, negotiation is actually an option :)

The map of Gamington is awesome (as is the overwhelming majority of the art pieces). Even if i don't use the adventure anytime soon, as it's certainly too high for my party of 3rd to 5th level S&W PCs, I can see myself using Gamington now.

Would I have preferred seeing stats, even if they were "generic OSR" in nature? Probably, but as I stated above, I know most of the stats by heart anyway. God, I'm such a classic gaming nerd ;)

(don't forget to read the sample PCs in the back - I can only identify about a 3rd - need to use google-fu!)

From the blurb:

Our friend, Ernie Gygax had a tough 2013. Early in the year a fire destroyed his apartment including many irreplaceable belongings. Later in the year he was laid low with a bout of congestive heart failure. This system-neutral adventure was inspired by some of those events and the storied history of gaming. 33% of the price is set up to go to the Ernie Gygax Relief Fund set up by his brother Luke Gygax. The adventure takes place in and around the town of Gamington on the shores of Gentle Lake. An arsonist's fire destroys the Tower of Ernesto, a famous wizard, but a band of heroes rallies to right the wrong, rooting out the evil in the nearby Fire Peak. A GM can set this up as a campaign addition or one-shot, in any Medieval Fantasy RPG system. There are plenty of tips to help do either. Included are some character backgrounds for the heroes noted within as well as an epic poem extolling their exploits. I hope it is as much fun to read as it was to write.

What Sources do You use for Inspiration When Writing Adventures?

Over the next few days I hope to dig into the research material my sister loaned me about Pennsylvania coal mines and their dangers (and still burning fires). I find the whole thing very intriguing and inspirational, and I expect it to translate well to a gaming scenario.

In the past I've drawn inspiration from books, movies, nature walks and occasionally, the dark corners of my mind ;)

Where do you draw your inspiration when writing adventures?

As the Vision Clears, I See Undead Dwarves & Goblins and a Trickster in Between - Yep, Three Levels of Dungeon Goodness

I'm beginning to get a feel for how the Dwarven mines are going to lay out for my slowly getting larger yet still small piece of the Saga of the Splintered Realms Megadungeon.

I'm seeing three levels - undead Dwarves above, undead goblins below and mines being fought over in between.

The undead will not be traditional undead. Intelligent, conniving and still concerned with some of the comforts of the living. Being intelligent, they can be bargained with. For once, the players will be the ones potentially bribed for their services.

I need to see where +Michael Desing is going with gods and other creatures of power and influence. I have an idea that needs to fit within the mythos of The Splinter Realms without upsetting the apple cart.

I know why the dwarves are there and why the goblins are there and what both sides are searching for. I know why they are undead (but I need to turn their undeaded-ness into stat blocks, as neither is traditional in their deadness).

My plan is to make this not just a very close fit with the megadungeon proper but also usable as a stand alone adventure (with hooks).

Monday, March 17, 2014

Undead Dwarven Miners in Perpetual Battle Against Undead Goblin Raiders - Yep, I Know What I'm Writing...

not "the map", but "a map" from the megadungeon

I'm beginning to think my "mini" level may be more of a full level in the mega-dungeon level I'll be writing for the Saga of Splintered Realms Kickstarter.

On the one side, we have Undead Dwarven Miners - not mindless undead, but undead driven to madness to complete their task.

On the other side, we have the Undead Goblin Raiders - again, not mindless but cunning.

The players will be enough to tip the balance of power to one side or the other, but why are these undead in battle? Heck, why are they even undead? What is the task the dwarves are driven to complete and why are the goblins so intent on stopping it?

And just who the fuck is bringing the undead back to undead-ness at the stroke of midnight each and every night, keeping this macabre dance going on to perpetuity?

Don't forget all the fun and danger that mining entails...

Wish I had the damn answers. Heck, I probably do, just haven't thought of them yet ;)

See what happens when I have a few beers, +Michael Desing ?

My Craigslist Old School Score - Part 4 of the Unboxing - Odds & Ends

Ashley don't need no modules with stinkin' covers!
Good to know I wasn't the only teen inflating scores ;)
Two sets of near pristine Greyhawk maps
I assume one set is from the folio and one from the boxed set

With the winter we've been having, it had to be open to
Snow and Ice Barbarians


Inside are true Goldenrods!
Never used even...

I Think I Know What I'm Going to do With My Mini Level of the Splintered Realms Megadungeon...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Craigslist Old School Score - Part 3 of the Unboxing - The Arcanum of the Invincible Overlord

Part the Third, not to be confused with Part the Second or Part the First. Will probably be followed with Part the Odds and Ends...

I'm not even sure what this is, but it looks damn cool!
Can you really ever have too much Tunnels & Trolls?

I never owned the Companion rules - now i do!

Never really got into star Frontiers

Can't go wrong with an extra DMG

Time for some DM Screens

This is blurry because they are still in shrink wrap
Two copies of "The Haunt", a boxed supplement for
the Invincible Overlord

and more boxed sets in the Invincible Overlord series
Not wrapped but all NM condition

My Craigslist Old School Score - Part 2 of the Unboxing - Rogues, DMs and More

Continuing the unboxing, part 1 of which is here. This may take four posts - definitely three.

Worn to shit - this was loved and read to pieces - literally.
This, A1 and S3 were pointed out by the seller to me because of the memories attached.
They have found a good home.

I never knew this even existed.
Pristine and never used.

Much better condition than my original copy, which I used multiple times

I've heard a lot about Marvelous Magic but never owned it.
G1-3 is a gawd damn classic!

and the maps are in pristine condition.
sadly, just one set ;)

of the "A" series, i only owned A1 (first module bought evar!)

Two copies of the Moldvay  rulebook- can't go wrong with that

both totally new to me

somewhere I have a previous copy of Fate of Istus
The Falcon stuff? nope

I'm not sure if I had this previously

Dragonlance - at least the seller knew where to stop while younger ;)

My Craigslist Old School Score - Part 1 of the Unboxing

Pictures, as we know, speak louder than words. +Joe D pointed out there was an Old School box of goodies posted on Craig's List that was in my neck of the woods. Color me surprised when I reached out and found out that is was still available. There is too much for a single post - possibly too much for two posts, but we'll see.

Total cost for the box was $250

Complete with player handouts / visuals. Inside is mint
N1 is in much better shape than my original copy

Just a fun set of adventures

Never owned T1, and my T1-4 map has been marked up multiple times

Dont believe I have either

Only had C1 previously

This stuff is classic

Whisper & Venom Free Preview Available as Full Digital Version Goes on Sale

I love my boxed set of Whisper & Venom. It perpetually stays next to my side of the sofa in the TV room, for constant reading during commercials and shows that the wife loves and my desire is a few notches less. It is, quite simply, enjoyable.

+Zach Glazar has now released Whisper & Venom in digital format, hyperlinked for your enjoyment and without those ugly watermarks one finds in most other digital releases of RPG products. Zach has also put together a free PDF preview of Whisper & Venom, to give prospective buyers a free usable peek. Yep, there is enough included to run a short game session with your OSR gaming group - or longer if your party tends to go off on tangents like mine does ;)

So, grab the free preview. It is, after all, free. If you like it, the full digital package is $12.99, and it includes a form fillable character sheet (made for LL, but usable for any OSR game system with little work).
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