Saturday, July 5, 2014

The "Free 5e Resources Link List" is up on the Right Sidebar of The Tavern

Alright, I have put up the Free 5e Resources Link on the top of the right side sidebar. It should be hard to miss.

Compared to the other free resource lists I have side-barred, it's fairly short - but heck, the rules were only officially released 2 days ago ;)

As always, feel free to point me to futher free resources as they get released,so we can keep the list growing.

As a side note, most of the OSR adventures I have listed further down the page should work with 5e with some modifications - if anything, they may be a little weak. I'm sure someone will come out with some easy conversion guidelines ;)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Putting Together a List of Free Resources for the D&D Basic Rules (5e)

You know those sidebars on the right side of this page, linking to free OSR rulesets and adventures? I'm going to do the same for 5e. It's the least I can do when WotC is giving us the core rules for free.

I'm trying to put together the list before I put it up, so if folks can point me to anything I may have missed, I'd appreciate it. Just add a comment below.

Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules (5e)

Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules (5e Printer Friendly)

The Wizards Amulet (1st Level Adventure)

5th Edition Character Sheets (WotC)

ENWorld 5e Adventure Collection

ENWorld 5e Fan Created Character Sheets

Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set Maps (DM & Player)  (apparently not free)

5e Treasure Generator

DCC RPG/Xcrawl Free RPG Day 2014 now available in PDF ($4.99)

You say you missed out on the Goodman Games Free RPG Day release this year? Now you can grab it in PDF. Only catch? It will cost you $4.99.

That's not unusual for Goodman Games - I believe they have been doing the same for the last couple of years with their Free RPG Day PDFs.

Anyhow, if you missed out on the DCC RPG/Xcrawl Free RPG Day 2014 release last month in print, you can grab it at RPGNow in PDF.

Now to track down the PDF releases of the other Free RPG Day releases...

Thinking of making My Next Campaign a S&W / 5e Mongrelization ;)

There's a lot to like in 5e, judging from the Basic Rule Set I downloaded and mostly read yesterday, but I don't think I'd want to run it. Swords & Wizardry is a system I can run virtually without referring to the rulebook. There's enough changes in 5e for me to lose that advantage. Still, there are pieces of 5e to easily steal borrow.

I like the idea of spells prepared being different from the spell slots for casting. It gives wizards some flexibility while still keeping away from spell points and the like.

I like that spell effectiveness is separated from character level and instead attached to spell level slot used. Want to cast a fireball with more d6's? Use a 4th or 5th level spell slot to cast it.

I like making sneak attach more effective than Old School BTB. If your target is engaged by another, you can get a sneak attack. Simple.

The second wind stuff would work well in a Swords &v Sorcery type setting without clerics or other healing magic. In a standard D&D fantasy setting, it seems to me to make the PCs way overpowered, but YMMV.

Just some basic thoughts. Theres other stuff that doesn't fit was well for me (skills and such), but I dont need that when making my S&W D&D Mongrel ;)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Frog God Games rereleases The Wizard's Amulet for 5e

Frog God Games has rereleased The Wizard's Amulet for the newly released D&D 5e using the traditional OGL.

It's a free download and you don't even need to sign up for a Frog God account.

5th Edition Rules, 1st Edition Feel

Thanks to +James Aulds for the hat tip ;)

Initial Impressions of 5e Basic - Cautiously Impressed

I'll admit it - I've found ideas I wouldn't mind borrowing for my S&W Campaigns.

Notice I'm not saying I'm looking to run a 5e game - I think I'd need to see the full set of releases first, but I do find that I'm not finding what I see offensive to my sense of gaming sensibilities, much as I did see in 4e.

I probably need more time to digest it all.

I suspect it should work fairly well with most OSR adventures, especially the lower to mid level ones with minimal fudging.

Of course, this could be the ramblings of someone under severe sunburn (and careless stupidity)

In Case You Missed It - 5e Basic PDF has been Released

5e Basic Credits
5e Basic is here. No, Really.

Clocks in at a mere 2.7 mb but 110 pages, so it should work fine on most tablets (will check later)

Time to read some of this puppy.

(BTW, Monte only gets mentioned under "further development by" for his 3e work apparently, not his aborted 5e work.)

Some Thoughts on a 2d6 Skill System for Thief Abilities

I need to keep out of the sun for a bit.
Damn sunburn

After reading through the Planet Eris house rules supplement, it occurred to me that 2d6 for skill checks for thieving abilities (or even other possible skills to be added later) has the huge advantage of the built in bel curve.

You can give everyone a basic chance to find traps or hide in shadows and the like, and yet give thieves better chances than other initially and allow them to increase with the bell curve.

So, say you give the basic chance to find traps as 11 or better on 2d6. That's about a 8% chance (doing the math in my head, so I could be very wrong). Give a bonus to finding for a high wisdom (+1) and / or being a dwarf (+1) would make that 9 or better - roughly 28% and never going up.

Now, if we start thief skills for thieves at 9 or better (Climb Walls and Read Languages would need to be tweaked) at first level, without adjustments for high ability scores or race, our thief is succeeding 1 in 4 times.

Give the thief 3 plus ones at 1st level and 2 plus ones at every level after that (no more than 1 plus to a particular skill at each level) and the thief can specialize, but as one gets better in a particular skill, the returns for that plus 1 get smaller and smaller. It's more effective to be a generalist, at least at higher levels.

A roll of 2 would always fail, no matter the skill level or the circumstances.

I need to really write this down and tweak it, but there is my thinking out loud, based on the Thief Skills charts presented in Planet Eris (I would move all of the 1d6 skills to the 2d6 resolution method).

Or this could all be the results of a mind suffering from sun poisoning...

I Should Have Stopped Before the Beach

I went to the beach at Lake Wallenpaupack with my niece and my wife yesterday. My niece took to the water like a fish - she is a very fearless 3 1/2 year old. We all had a blast.

Now, to back up just a bit and set things in motion properly, when planning out trip to NTRPG Con, Rachel bought solid sunscreen - it looks like and applies much like a deodorant stick. She figured this way, it wouldn't be an issue when going through airport screening, and she was right.

The problem is, the human body isn't meant to be swathed by a deodorant bar. Apparently, I had no idea where i covered and where I didn't. I look like some kind of Cthulhuian Candy Cane. Shit is painful too.

No more trips to the beach for me this vacation (not that the weather would be cooperating the rest of the week anyway.)

So - more time for reading.

Also, those lists for me Super Secret Project - I never put them in my Dropbox, so I'm having to put them together for a second time. More of an annoyance than anything else.

5e Basic releases later today - sometime during business hours Pacific time.  If nothing else, they should be interesting.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mini Review - Planet Eris: Booklet 1 - House Rules

Planet Eris: Booklet 1 - House Rules is another purchase from NTRPG Con - and no, I'm not sure where you can find this outside of NTRPG Con (or other Old School gaming cons I'm guessing). So yeah, more cool shit that I have and you don't. Sorry about that.

Anyhow, it's a bunch of house rules that build upon the Original D&D White Box, but the source material is downright extensive. I don't have the patience to copy it all down, so here's a pic:

Yes, that would have been a lot to type.

So, the big thing that sticks out to be is the changes to the Thief class (with all I've been thinking about thieves in OSR gaming, it's not surprising that this stuck out. Anyhow, Jimm Johnson converted all of those damn percentile rolls to d6 rolls, but some are on 2d6 and some are on 1d6. I have no idea why he used both methods when dividing up the skills, but I do like the 2d6 method as it has a nice built in bell curve (I believe this is similar to Stars Without Number). I'm going to yoke this and rework it and post it when I do.

There is a nice section on hirelings, retainers and henchmen.

There are some spell tweaks. Well, lots of spell tweaks. More than I care to read.

Everyone has at least a 1 in 6. Dwarves have a 2 in 6 chance. I'm yoking this.

Jousting, disease, getting lost, starvation, jousting - even a 2 page mass combat system.

Worth the cash on inspiration alone. The fact that I can steal some of these houserules as is? Damn near priceless.

And yes, i noticed the cover...

Mini Review - The Tomb of the Sea Kings (Adventure Levels 5+)

I'm going to say this right from the start - don't expect to use The Tomb of the Sea Kings in an ongoing campaign without major reworking and rewriting. It is NOT campaign friendly and failure to complete the adventure can lead to "death my a 20th level mage." No, not kidding.

That being said, as a one-shot or convention module, I think it could be aces. Sure, it's a funhouse dungeon, but that works well outside of the usual campaign type of setting / structure.

Lots of potential stat loss, stat gain, level loss, infinite pits, doors to "somewhere", naked characters - like I said, funhouse. A funhouse can be lots of fun in the right set up, which is why I see The Tomb of the Sea Kings as a fun choice for convention play with pregens, and much less fun plugged into the average campaign without a shitload of work. YMMV of course.

All that being said, there are bits and pieces I could readily steal for campaign play.

These were printed via Lulu (I grabbed my copy at NTRPG Con), but I don't think you can find it online.

On Vacation STOP Working on Secret Project STOP Going to Swim at Lake First DONT STOP

I'm away from the city for a few days as well as away from work. It's an amazing thing, this thing they call "The Country."

In any case, I need to tie of a few last end of "The Secret Project" which should be officially announced in a week or two.

I also need to read. A lot. As if I were away from cable and the internet, but I'm not. Still, I'll pretend and make it so ;)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Kickstarter I WANT, But Can't Justify: GameChanger - Virtual Tabletop Gaming Surface

My God but I want this. GameChanger is a virtual table top for your actual table.

I'm in love. Or lust.

My wife would kill me, I have no use for it, but it doesn't stop the want.

From the blurb:
A high-quality, durable, multi-touch LCD Gaming Surface for RPGs, Miniatures and other tabletop gaming. 
The GameChanger is the first affordable, durable and widely available gaming surface.  Using recent price breakthroughs in LED panels, touch technology and mini-computers, gamers can at last take advantage of the latest technology, in an easily upgradeable and affordable way.  
We've made a huge ruggedised iPad to use for gaming —for about the same price or less! 
Now your favourite adventures (readily available on pdf or scanned) can be presented quickly and easily using whichever virtual table top, or any other tools you use for your games. 

A Scratching My Head Kickstarter - fantasy rpg travel starter set tabletop miniatures sci-fi (urh?)

First off, the title is all fucked up. Heck, it isn't even a proper title and it probably isn't an accurate description.

fantasy rpg travel starter set tabletop miniatures sci-fi

right... and the first stretch goal is... poly dice.

a proper RPG "Starter Whatever" is dice, notepaper, graph paper (maybe) and a pencil. All else is frills.
Travelling for gaming events can be tough (especially for dms) when you're lugging around all your gaming gear, me and my wife have had this problem where we never have anyway of carrying our gaming boards so we came up with a fabric scroll board its an a2 size print like the one in the picture it folds or rolls up and fits into my pocket. this very quickly developed into me wanting to make simple affordable starter sets that fit nicely into a travel package so whether you are a new player or you've been playing rpgs from the start you can get everything you need to play in one simple easy to transport package! with this kickstarter i hope to be able to get more designs for my maps with themed collections and get them manufactured on a larger scale + water proofing i would also like to improve the quality a great deal for a long lasting product.
Now, it says UK for the project, but the fucker must be from Germany, as those are some disjointed run on sentences. Oh, and capitalization wouldn't hurt either.

God, my head hurts. Make it stop. Please.

Oh, and what exactly is "map dice"?

Right. I'm am far from the grammar police, but there needs to be a summary arrest and possibly painful sentence handed down. Now. Where's Judge Dredd when you need him?

On Time Kickstarter - The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence

Yes, even Ashely notices the ass on the cover of The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence. Admittedly, it is hard to miss. Not quite what I would choose for the cover of a gaming product, but so long as the stuff between the covers is good.

I got my copy in the mail yesterday and will be part of my vacation reading (amongst many others). Technically, it arrived on the last day of June and it was estimated for July, so yes, Holy Shit, this is actually a Kickstarter that released EARLY!


The PDF of The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence is available at DriveThru and RPGNow.

Dungeon Dozen on Sale at Lulu - 20% off (and an extra 10% coupon)

I caught wind of this sale over at OSR Today, but wasn't able to add the 20% coupon and combine the two discounts. I WAS able to add DISCOUNT10 for an extra 10% off, so I can't complain.

Needless to say, I ordered the Dungeon Dozen hardback ;)

You can sample the wares at The Dungeon Dozen blog.

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 ;)

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