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...

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