Saturday, May 10, 2014

and the Free LotFP PDFs Go To...

It's 740 PM - close enough to 8M, so I'm closing to entries and awarding goodies NOW!

Sixty entries - 4 goodies

A Single, Small Cut goes to frothsof and Craig Jannsen

Death Frost Doom goes to Tony T.

Tower of the Stargazer goes to imredave

email me at tenkarsDOTtavern at that gmail thing if you are listed above and I'll get your codes to you

And Now an Osquip for Today's Earlier Dungeon Map!

+Jim Magnusson posted the above on his blog after seeing +Simon Forster 's excellent map with Osquip tunnels earlier (but I'll post it again for easy reference).

The fuckin' OSR is one amazing community!

Wait a second, that osquip is holding a human head...

must... not... launch... new... contest... before... concluding... current... on... need... beer...

Amazing Mapping by Simon Forster!

Pure mapping awesome by +Simon Forster !

Really, someone needs to use his stuff in some published works.

Just goes to show there are always new ways to do the tried and true.

I need to do some more mapping myself, although mine is more "Amateur Hour at The Tavern" ;)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mini Review - Pocket-Sized Adventures #3 - Skull Cave (Swords & Wizardry Adventure)

I've been meaning to do this review for the better part of a week. Damn the distractions!

+Jeffrey Tadlock has found a nice niche with his Pocket-Sized Encounters line. They are longer than one sheets or micro adventures and include background for the DM and adventure hooks. It's not that background or hooks are needed, but they add depth that is often lacking in shorter adventure presentations, which can only make the DM's job easier.

Skull Cave has five numbered locations within a small cave complex. Not a huge amount, but there is enough here to make this a decent side quest on the way to a full sized adventure. The final encounter is worth the price of admission (new monster too)

Interestingly enough, Jeffery gives us a Lair Treasure Table which is to be used to generate the treasure for the final encounter. The great thing is the table is reusable and portable to other adventures of the DM's design, or when he / she is looking for some inspiration along those lines.

Actually, I like the Random Burial Mound Table to determine items in various debris piles in in the caves - something else easily reused elsewhere.

We also get a new form of Demon (pictured above). Really, how can you go wrong with a new form of demon? ;)

Did I mention the grid and gridless maps, both in DM and and in unkeyed player flavors (suitable for VTT play - thanks for listening Jeff)

Skull Cave is a S&W adventure for levels 4-6

Now, I wonder if +Jeffrey Tadlock will be putting out a print compilation when he hits PSA #6 or so? ;)

From the blurb:

Centuries ago nomads found a cave and felt drawn to perform their death rites to dark gods within its confines. Years of ritualistic offerings to malevolent forces has fed demons deep below the cave. The nomads have long since disappeared, but a recent earth tremor has freed the demon spawn from their prison deep below the surface. Seeking blood of victims to fuel their infernal fires they have moved closer to the surface and begun their hunt.

A Pocket-Sized Encounter compatible with the Swords & Wizardry rules system for 4th to 6th level character.

Pocket-Sized Encounters from Iron Tavern Press are shorter scenarios designed to be dropped into an existing campaign with minimal preparation. Use them for shorter sessions, provide your players with choices that won’t derail your campaign or even as a launching point for a new campaign path.

Included in this product are:

New Bloodfire Demon Monster

Multiple adventure hooks

Location based encounter area maps (GM, Player versions in grid and gridless format)

Seeds for expanding the adventure

Random Treasure Hoard table

Just Because - Giving Away Some LotFP Adventures in PDF - for Free :)

It seems that I've gotten some codes PDF codes for backing some LotFP crowdfunded project or another. In truth, they are all overdue and I no longer recall which ones these were rewards from. The thing is, I already have them all in PDF, even +Michael Curtis 's new adventure (well, just got it before I saw the email with the code)

In any case, I have a code for each of the following. Three codes in total. Three random winners in total. Add a comment here on this post at The Tavern before 8PM Saturday night, May 10th, Eastern Time to have a chance to snag a code.

A Single, Small Cut

Death Frost Doom

Tower of the Stargazer

Good luck to all!

(on a side note, hope to have the round 2 winners for the OSR Superstar Contest announced tomorrow :)

Which of the Core Four Classes is Most Easily Forgotten?

Neither group I current run has a thief among them (although the Saturday group does have a S&W Monk, which covers most of the needed bases). Therefore, I find a lot of 10' pole tapping (obviously linked to early dungeon maps being gridded out in 10' hexes), axe hacking at locked doors, crow-barring of locked chests and the like.

Oh, and much finding of traps the old fashioned way - "Ouch! Shit! There's a trap here guys!"

All of which leads to the question - of the current list of 4 core classes, which class can the party do without and still get by? (edit: I realize the Thief was a later addition to the core)

I would lean towards the thief, but in actual play I've seen more groups without a cleric of any sort than a thief. Figure that one out?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I Seem to Have a Plethora of DCC RPG Adventures - Time to Convert Some more to Swords & Wizardry

I've mentioned this before but I'll say it again, my players really enjoy the DCC RPG adventures, but they were less sold on the DCC RPG itself. A bit too "swingy" in it's spell casting especially, or at least, that is the feedback I've gotten.

All that being said, they really get immersed in the flavor and strangeness of the DCC RPG Adventures, especially the ones from Goodman Games ( +Harley Stroh and +Michael Curtis seem to be the favorite authors thus far, but we haven't delved into the complete well of authors yet).

I tend to convert from DCC to S&W on the fly, but what I really need to do is put some of my conversion results into a blog post. Well, some of the various adversaries and such.

My party is hitting around 5th level these days - I think The Croaking Fane will be the next conversion ;)

How Do Your Roll For Initiative?

I was listening to the Roll for Initiative podcast on the commute home from work, and they were discussing, what else, rolling for initiative.

It seems that few, if any, that I know do this "by the book".

I run with - roll a d6 for each side, adjust that number by individual reaction speeds, and then count down from the highest number.

When using reaction speed adjustments, I really should be using individual initiative numbers, but ain't nobody got time for that!

Alignment Tongues - Do You Use Them?

I've been listening to the latest Roll for Initiative Podcast, where they are rolling up AD&D 1e characters, and alignment tongues or alignment languages came up.

Vince and the others are right. As best I can recall, they aren't explained very well in the core books and I don't remember ever using them in game. Sure, everyone had one, but it never got used.

Do you use alignment tongues? If so, how do you define them (spoken, secret signs, etc)?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Revisiting My Conversion of "DCC RPG Luck" to Swords & Wizardry (or any OSR ruleset)

Don't you wish you could reroll that save?

I've running with a "Luck" ability in my OSR games for a while now, and I've found it to be an excellent addition to a PC's resources. It doesn't take away tension. Instead, I've found it adds to the tense moments and makes gameplay just a tad more exciting. Of course, like most houserules that I've introduced in the past, I tend to initially make them needlessly complicated, almost as a justification for the rule itself.

Now I'm going to simplify it after using it with 2 different groups and 3 different campaigns.

"Luck" in Swords & Wizardry (or really any OSR ruleset)

Every PC starts out with 5 points of Luck. Thieves add 1 point to that total as well as Halflings (so a Halfling Thief would get 7 points)

Luck may be used the following ways:

     * 1 point of luck may be spent to add + 2 to any D20 roll after the roll is made. This can turn a miss into a hit or a failed save into a save.

     * 1 point of luck may be spent to add + 10 to any % roll after the roll is made. This can turn a failed remove traps roll into success

     * 2 points of luck allows the PC to reroll any die (or dice for a damage spell) - attack, save, damage, even HP gained from level advancement if they have 2 pts of luck left in their pool when they are awarded their new level. It can also be used to force an opponent to reroll an attack, save or damage roll. The reroll replaces the original roll, even if it it worse than the roll it is replacing.

Luck may only be used once per "situation" or encounter.

Luck resets to the PC's maximum amount at the beginning of each session, so there is no reason to hoard it (except for the possible reroll of HP gain due to leveling)

If there is a way to add to a PCs permanent Luck Score, I haven't thought of one yet. I've sure it would involve some major forces if it did.

You could introduce something like an altar or a fountain, that if used properly, could restore some luck mid session. Hmmm, I should actually try that ;)

What is Your Default "Adventure Kick Off Location"?

We all know the scene:
You're all in a tavern, eating and drinking, when a mysterious stranger approaches you with a "situation" that could use the assistance of experienced adventurers such as yourselves. He leans in and tells you a story of betrayal and death...
We also all know the above is well overplayed to the point it's a joke. Doesn't stop us from using it tho' ;)

So, how and where do you like to kick off your adventures?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

OneBookShelf Purging Some "Self" Reviews (Publishers, Don't Rate Your Own Works)

A publisher friend of mine got an email from OneBookShelf informing them that OBS was removing one or more reviews that they had made at OBS / DTRPG / RPGNow.

Criteria for removal? They had either highly reviewed one of their own products, or gave someone else a poor review.

The letter itself was a a form letter, written in general with no specifics as to his / her actual offense.

Apparently, nearly 100 publishers were "caught" in this audit, but at this time, all they are doing is removing reviews that violated a previously unwritten policy. I mean, in retrospect, this is a no-brainer - I surprised it hasn't come up previously.

Now, I know of a product that released yesterday, got a 5 star review, and the first name and first initial of the last name of the reviewer match that of the publisher. I suspect that went up after the audit.

OBS reviews have been controversial at times, as it is an open secret that "featured reviewers" aren't supposed to make negative reviews on the OBS sites.

Kinda makes those OBS reviews a bit less valuable if you ask me.

Bundle of Holding - Trail of Cthulhu

The Trail of Cthulhu Bundle of Holding excites me less than it should, to be honest. The Gumshoe system is solid, it just doesn't fit my style of gaming. It may, however, fit yours, and if it does, Trail of Cthulhu is a fine flavor of the rules.

Wayward Kickstarter - The Quantum RPG is Dead, Toast, Ain't Gonna Happen

The latest (and probably last) update from Josh - yes, backer only but as the project is dead, I'm sharing it - submitted without further comment:

Project Update #83: I Don't Even Know What to Title This
 Backer_white For backers only Posted by Joshua Frost ♥ Like

I've spend the better part of the last 8 months trying to decide how to write this post. I'm just going to say it:

This project is dead. For now. Possibly forever.

I've spent the better part of the last two years trying not to throw anyone under the bus regarding the project's tardiness. I've been non-specific about details, taken the blame for it, watched people compliment the reason the project was late and is now dead as being a hard worker while I'm some asshole slacker.

Now, I haven't been perfect. I've made key mistakes--mistakes born of inexperience running an entire company and mistakes of trust.

I built an amazing business plan and budget with the help of a non-profit in Seattle that does just that for new small businesses. I hired what I thought were the right people, and for the most part, they were. Though there were complaints, we released the Beta on a timeline I was comfortable with.

And that's where the problems broke the company.

See, Hugo Solis has a problem with deadlines. I noticed it before the Beta, but since we didn't need everything done by the Beta for the final book, I let it slide. Around July 2012 I informed Hugo that I absolutely, positively, needed all of the art for the book done by September 1, 2012. The Beta was releasing in August 2012 and the business plan and budget I'd developed with the help of Community Capital Development in Seattle said I had some wiggle room, but if I didn't have the book off to the presses by October 1, 2012, I was going to be in some real trouble.

Hugo informed me around the end of July that he would have everything done by September 1, 2012. He even created a handy little graphic of an August calendar that showed everything he would finish and when it would be finished by. This was about the time I started saying the following: "I need the full color world map done first. It'll take at least a week to edit it in Photoshop to add tags, borders, country names, etc. I can't get that last."

To this day, I still don't have that map.

Hugo spent August 2012 working on his free frog PDF that he made available on my previous employer's website. I spent August 2012 freaking the fuck out and constantly badgering him over and over and over for the art he promised. When September 1 blew by with only a very small percentage of the remaining art completed, I knew Infinite X Studio was in real trouble.

So I did the dumbest thing I've ever done: I started a new Kickstarter hoping it would generate the revenue I needed to finish project #1, probably with a new bunch of artists rather than one single artist, from which I would use the proceeds to finish project #2. You know, the TSR model. And that worked really well for TSR.

Thank all the gods ever created that Kickstarter failed. That would have been a fucking disaster.

After that Kickstarter failed, I generated new budgets and a new business plan and spent a few months pitching the project to anyone I knew who had money and would be willing to buy a piece of the company to help me get over the hump and finish the book. While I was doing this, I was also pushing Hugo quite frequently to finish the fucking art already. I received numerous promises of completion, numerous excuses for the lack of completion, and aged about 15 years in a single season.

I also spent that time feverishly re-writing the game. Because as luck (???) would have it, I had a profound insight that made the game unbelievably better. I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and, meanwhile, art failed to arrive, art failed to arrive, art failed to arrive.

Sometime around May-ish 2013, a hard look at my family's finances made it very clear to me that I wasn't going to sustain not having a job or even having a company for much longer. One of the additional downsides to blowing the budget and business plan to pieces was that I couldn't even afford to renew the LLC in fall 2012. This meant that, for all intents and purposes, Infinite X Studio ceased to exist then. I hoped I would be able to find away around that and I did not.

This was about the time I fired Hugo.

I then set about pitching the project to every artist I could find and afford. Guess what those artists wouldn't do? Create art without being paid up front! Do I blame them? Hell no! I paid Hugo 50% up front. Will I ever do that again? Hell no. Of course, that presupposes I ever try to create something like Infinite X Studio again and, at this point, that seems highly unlikely.

Hugo begged his way back into the project with additional promises. A few new small pieces of art came in. I continued to say again and again and again that I needed the full color world map done IMMEDIATELY and it continued to fail to arrive.

In August 2013, reality finally broke my little bubble and I realized I needed a fucking job.

So I started working part time as an admin at a sporting goods store. For those of you who fucking hate me right now, feel vindicated that I now have a horrible, demeaning job well below my talents and job experience. Hurray me.

Even after starting the admin job in September 2013, I continued pushing for more art and trying to balance a new life schedule around work. And then in early November 2013, I lost all the steam I'd built. Lacking money, any new art in months (and definitely no fucking sign of the largest part of the entire project, the full color world map), I focussed on work and the family and decided I was done with marketing, business, the hobby gaming industry, the Internet, Facebook, and 99% of all forms of communication. In January of this year, I began the process of wracking up massive debt (hurray America!) to return to school and get a degree in something I'd come to love in the past 10 years that would keep me as far away from the hobby industry as possible: Physics. So for those of you who fucking hate me--sorry, that's actually going pretty okay right now.

Now you have the history. Now you have my frustrations. I've endeavored to present them in a way that's void of marketing speak and bullshit reality dodging. I'm sure I've left out a few things here or there, but the story is the simplest version I could write.

So here's the deal:

Technically (and quite legally, in fact), this project died when the LLC died. I still want to finish this thing, but in order to do so, I would need money to start a new LLC (the smallest cost) and money to hire an artist or seven to finish the project (the largest cost). For all his professing that there's quote, "Art just laying around" waiting for me, there's absolutely nothing in the past two years that leads me to believe this is in anyway true whatsoever. And, on the small chance I'm wrong and it is true, there's zero trust remaining between myself and Hugo Solis. Hiring him for this project, despite his obvious and incredible talent, was the biggest mistake I've ever made in my professional career.

While there may be future updates and while there's a slim--oh so slim--chance a miracle might happen and money might fall out of my ass, you should assume there will be no further updates from me. The project is dead, no longer has a timeline, and has no plans to resume.

Unless, like I said, money falls out of my ass.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Why is Free RPG Day 2014 So "Eh" This Year?

About the only things I find interesting are the Goodman Games DCC Adventure and the LotFP Quickstart.

Cosmic Patrol I have picked up the last two years and have never come close to using and even the C&C adventure lacks excitement to my eyes.

Maybe the Valiant Universe RPG Quickstart could be a pick-up. I guess I should check out the free quickstart of the Valiant system on DrivethruRPG

There was a T&T Quickstart last year to get folks excited for Deluxe T&T, but that Kickstarter is going to be at least a year before it releases.

Yes, I'm bitching that free games aren't all to my liking. I know...

Fight On! Issue #4, Free in PDF (limited time)

For a limited time only, Fight On! #4 is available for Free in PDF.

Get it before it's gone.  Well, rather, no longer free.

Thanks to +Heron Prior for pointing this out over on G+

Kickstarter - The Chained Coffin (DCC RPG Adventure)

Even if this Kickstarter failed to fund (it's already funded and has 27 days to go) the adventure would still have been published. The Chained Coffin DCC Adventure Kickstarter is to make the adventure "more better" - it's kinda like the Six Million Dollar Man of DCC RPG Adventures - or maybe not quite, but it is being built better.

You see, the Kickstarter is funding a special version of the adventure that includes a prop - the wheel you see above, with three sets of markings for the players to figure out how to match up (regular version of the adventure will have the above without being preassembled separate wheels - cut out your own ;)

Is the prop needed? No.

Is it cool? Yes

Do stretch goals add content to both versions of the adventure? Yes  To be determined - aaargh!

Can you order other, discounted DCC RPG goodies? Yes

I'm already in for $30. My players love the DCC RPG adventures, even if I do convert them to Swords & Wizardry these days ;)

I Want HER To Do Segment Intros on the "Tenkar and the Badger" Podcast

Listen and weep for "your chubbiest friends."

(can't embed this one) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP34-UrXTxs

My wife laughs uncontrollably when I play the clips.

I think someone will need to record "Tenkar & The Badger, it supports even your chubbiest friends!"

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Mini Review - Secrets #1 - (S&W Fanzine)

I'm not sure whether I'm on a fanzine kick or not, but my God there are a lot of awesome fanzones out there for those that dig such things.

Secrets #1, Omens & Portents is an old school fanzine, nominally for Swords & Wizardry but suitable for the Old School RPG of your choice.

This is very much a "gaming resource", as it has a section on divine spells (new clerical and druidic spells - well, not all new to the OGL, but new to S&W). It also has a handful of new monsters which are pretty cool.

More exciting (and extremely useful to me as a S&W DM) is the section on new magic items. Holy crap but there is some fun stuff here. The versatility of the rods makes them very powerful, although not as powerful as they might seem outright.

I'll be stealing some of the magic items for my own campaign, and I'll be giving access to the clerical spells to the party's cleric.

Did I mention I really love the cover?

+Nathan Irving is the guilty party behind this new fanzine and it is good.  Not a surprise, really, as his blog is also an awesome gaming resource.

Secrets #1 is $4 in print, $2 in PDF and $6 for the combo.  Print prices include international shipping, which makes it a steal of a zine for those outside the states.

At this rate I'll need a special box to keep all of these fanzines in order.

Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between the CHAMPIONS OF ZED - When Crowdfunded Projects Go Dark

I like Kickstarter. Heck, i can even find myself liking Indiegogo, although it's ease of separating fools from their money makes it more prone to scams than Kickstarter.

I'm not calling either project a "scam", BTW. They both do exist in PDF format, it's just that the promised and paid for print editions do not seem to be forthcoming, and both project creators seem to have gone to ground.

CHAMPIONS OF ZED looked damn cool and hit all the notes old school gamers like to hear:
Champions of ZED is the first and only comprehensive SANDBOX edition of the world’s first fantasy Role-Playing game!  Champions of ZED weaves together the scattered notes and guidelines of the two original designers who created the fantasy RPG genre, and includes revisions drawn from the long lost Beyond This Point Be Dragons manuscript.
Sadly, August will make it 2 years late, and the creator, Daniel Boggs, hasn't been seen nor heard from on the project's Kickstarter page since the end of January. I have the PDF. I'd like to see the book I paid for.

As for Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between, a Patron Sourcebook for the DCC RPG. I've had the PDF in hand for ages. Print copies were due in December of 2012.

The last update is from six months ago:
hi all it is with great pleasure that i can tell you that everything has been dispatched.It should be with you by Christmas.
Sorry for the delays at the end but it will be worth the wait.
Thank you all for your support and we all look forward to your feedback.
If you do not not have your order by Christmas Day please email me directly to update me. xxxxxxxxxxxxx@me.com
Many many thanks
Sean Connors   
I never received my copy. Folks actually involved in the project never received their copies. See, Myth & Magic is not alone, and in that case, I know copies exist and some actually shipped. If you know of a dead tree copy floating around, let us know in the comments attached to this post.

Mini Review - Crawling Under a Broken Moon (DCC RPG Fanzine / Setting)

The DCC RPG scene seems to draw fanzines unto itself much like a flame draws moths. Strangely, the fanzines in question don't get burned, perhaps because they are in many respects the jewels of the DCC universe. I need to do a post that just highlights DCC RPG fanzines - I'll add it to me todo list ;)

Crawling Under a Broken Moon is the latest DCC fanzine to reach my virtual table, and although it draws much of it's inspiration from the classic Thundarr the Barbarian cartoon, there is much here that would work well in converting DCC to a Gamma World type setting (which I believe may already be in the works by one of the hosts of the excellent Spellburn podcast, but I digress).

+Reid San Filippo was kind enough to send me a PDF copy, so of course my first question is going to be "where can I find this in print and add it to my fanzine collection?" And the answer is the Crawling Under a Broken Moon Blog ;)

So, what do you get in issue #1 of CUBM?

You get a brief overview of the setting in Welcome to Umerica. A new glass class (damn typos) with the Technologist (which is kind of a gonzo gadget using scientist). Weapons and the Wasteland is a stripped down reworking of +Dak Ultimak 's firearms article on guns, aimed at post apocalyptic gamma gonzo. New monsters with the Twisted Menagerie and finally An Interesting Place to Die gives one a drop in location / encounter.

Each article is pretty good taken on it's own, but the project is pretty damn amazing when one considers it pretty much arrived from off radar - or at least off my radar.

If you play the DCC RPG at all, Crawling Under a Broken Moon is pretty much a must buy. If you buy any of the old school fanzines, this should be right there on the shelf with the rest of your collection.

I'm looking forward to more issues - and the print copy I just ordered ;)

PDF is $2.99

Print plus PDF is $4 domestic, $5.50 international

Swords & Wizardry Combat Charts Converted to Simple Pluses

I find simple addition to ones roll is much easier than looking up charts these days, so for my own sanity I've converted the S&W Combat Charts to simple pluses, at least thru level 11 or so.

Clerics, Druids and Monks:

Levels 1-2     + 0
            3-4     + 1
            5-6     + 2
            7-8     + 3
              9      + 4
           10-11  + 5

Fighter, Paladin and Ranger:

Levels 1-2     + 0
              3      + 1
            4-5     + 2
              6      + 3
              7      + 4
              8      + 5
              9      + 6
           10-11  + 7

Magic-Users, Thieves and Assassins:

Levels 1-3     + 0
            4-5     + 1
            6-7     + 2
            8-9     + 3
             10      + 4
           11-13   + 5


+ 1 Per HD up to 15 HD
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