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)?
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